Weather relief for wildfire

Santa Barbara: Thanks to a dramatic change in the weather, residents have begun returning home to areas that had been threatened by a devastating wildfire, — but they’ve been told to remain alert in case conditions worsen again. The blaze that charred an area of more than 35 square kilometres was 40 per cent contained yesterday after a blanket of cool, moist air flowed in from the Pacific Ocean, keeping dry wind from the interior from stoking the flames again.

More fog and mist rolled in from the sea early Sunday, keeping temperatures cool and humidity high.

The National Weather Service forecast highs of up to 24 degrees Celsius today.

Fire officials said the blaze destroyed 31 homes and two detached garages, and damaged 47 other home.

Cheers erupted at an evacuation centre when Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown announced yesterday that mandatory evacuation orders for most areas were being downgraded to evacuation warnings, meaning residents could return but would have to remain alert.