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Calif. wildfire threatens homes near Santa Barbara

A Los Angeles County firefighter helicopter drops water on a wildfire burning through 3,600 acres of the Angeles National Forest Sept. 4, 2012, near Glendora, Calif.
AP Photo

SANTA BARBARA Mandatory evacuations were ordered on Wednesday as a vegetation fire threatened homes in the Painted Cave area of Santa Barbara, CBS Los Angeles reports.

The blaze erupted around 8 a.m. Wednesday near the prosperous, scenic coastal city sandwiched between picturesque beaches and towering, heavily wooded mountains.

A large head of smoke was visible from Highway 154 near the top of the San Marcos Pass after the fire broke out. Fire officials say the 10-acre blaze is growing rapidly and burning close to homes. It's unclear how many are threatened.

Six air tankers have been called in. The National Weather Service says winds are light but they could gust to 20 mph later in the day.

County fire Capt. David Sadecki tells KNX radio that the fire's cause is unknown, but some power lines are down in the area.

"We do have a big problem," said Sadecki. "It's kind of early in the morning to have a fire of this magnitude."

The Painted Cave area was the scene of another fire in 1990 that killed one person and burned about 550 homes over 7 1/2 square miles.