GOLETA, Calif. - A vegetation fire sparked Monday afternoon in Goleta, causing slowdowns on Highway 101.
The fire was first reported around 2:20 p.m. between Los Carneros Road and Fairview Avenue in the vegetation along the southbound lanes of the 101.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department said it appeared to be a homeless encampment fire that took off in the vegetation between Highway 101 and the train tracks.
A formerly homeless man in the area called it Randyland named after a longtime man who lived there.
By 3:40 p.m., the fire had grown to one acre in size, however, forward progress was stopped by firefighters.
County Fire ground crews and a County air support unit helicopter worked together to attack the flames.
Firefighters remained on scene until about 9 p.m. to make sure it didn't spark up again.
Southbound traffic on Highway 101 was affected due to large plumes of drifting smoke. Southbound lanes of the freeway were brought to a standstill during rush hour due to the fire.
According to Caltrans, the number two (right) lane of the southbound 101 freeway at Fairview Avenue in Goleta was temporarily closed for the fire. The number one (left) lane remained open but traffic was heavy in the area.
Caltrans suggested drivers detour from the US 101 and travel east on Hollister Avenue.
Large plumes of black smoke could be seen throughout the area. Images of the smoke were captured by Pacific Gas & Electric's ALERTWildfire camera at UC Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara County Battalion Chief Adam Estabrook said onshore winds prevent a nearby lumberyard from catching fire.
He said this is the third of fourth homeless encampment fire they have put out during fire season. At the same time they are trying to keep their crews safe from the pandemic.
Tony Herrera of Haywood Lumber said he would like to the see the city, county and the CHP work together to remove homeless camps.
Fire crews parked in the yard and put a fire house beneath the tracks to get water to the fire.
They said they were calling it the Track Fire.
A formerly homeless woman who used to live in the area was able to find some of her things in the ashes.
No injuries were reported. The exact cause of the fire is under investigation.