SANTA BARBARA — A wind-driven brush fire Tuesday in the Santa Barbara foothills charred at least 420 acres, forced the evacuation of about 1,000 homes and renewed grim memories of the devastating fires that swept through the area last fall.
The Jesusita fire started about 1:50 p.m., racing through thick chaparral on the slopes above San Roque Canyon. It was burning about a mile west of November's Tea fire, which destroyed more than 200 homes in Santa Barbara and Montecito.
By nightfall, authorities said they knew of no structures destroyed, despite the tower of brownish-white smoke that loomed over the ridgelines. But they warned that the flames were just half a mile from homes and moving toward the city. Some 2,000 structures were threatened, officials said.
Firefighters braced for an onslaught of sundowner winds that gusted down the mountains and toward the sea. For hours, three helicopters dropped water on the advancing blaze. Some 70 engines and several hundred firefighters were either at the scene or on the way from other areas.