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Shelter in place issued as Bar fire halted at 20 acres

Shelter in place issued as Bar fire halted at 20 acres

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A vegetation fire that began burning up Refugio Road in Gaviota was halted at 20 acres just after 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. 

Although what was dubbed the Bar fire had not been fully circled, the forward spread of the blaze was stopped Wednesday evening, according to Capt. Dave Zaniboni. Fire crews worked Wednesday afternoon to circle the blaze and drive a hose line around the fire. 

Evacuations in the area were downgraded to shelter in place. 

“A task force of Santa Barbara engines and two heavy tankers have been diverted to the Bar fire,” said Melanie Banton, Rey fire information officer.

"It's looking really good right now. We made good progress with diverting aircraft from the Rey incident to the Bar incident, including engine companies and crews," Zaniboni said Wednesday evening. "We were fortunate that winds were light up and down Gaviota and not the normal northwesterly winds that they usually have at this time of the day." 

No structures were reported to be lost or damaged, and no injuries were reported. Crews were expected to be on scene throughout Wednesday night mopping up the fire and ensuring that flames were not be escaping the lines. 

At about 4:37 p.m. County Fire officials responded to the vegetation fire one mile up Refugio Road in the Gaviota area on the north side of Highway 101.

The fire grew from 5 acres to 20 acres in less than 20 minutes a little after 5 p.m., burning "at a moderate rate of spread," according to Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni, public information officer. 

The exit off Highway 101 northbound of Refugio Road was closed. 

Flames began to move toward the highway from atop Venadito Canyon after 5 p.m. Structures near the area were reported to be under threat, and evacuation notifications were issued in Refugio Canyon and Venadito Canyon. 

Terri Nisich, a county spokeswoman, said the evacuation notice for the Bar fire was for Refugio Road from Cold Canyon Road to the Las Flores oil refinery. The evacuation notices since have been downgraded to shelter-in-place orders.

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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