Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for more parts of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties as the fire continued to burn, Efe news agency reported.
“Very strong north winds” and dry conditions have allowed the fire to increase “significantly” and make an “aggressive push” south, according to an incident report published by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) on Saturday evening.
The blaze, called the Thomas Fire, has burned over 267,000 acres (108,000 hectares), making it the third-largest in the state’s history.
Only 40 per cent contained on Saturday evening, it was moving rapidly and now took aim at the hills above Montecito, known for its luxury resorts and mansions of celebrities.
Kelly Hoover, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s spokeswoman, said authorities dispatched hundreds of crews to Montecito, checking the communities door to door and ordering residents to leave the evacuation zone, Xinhua reported.
She warned that the situation was really dangerous for their lives since the Santa Ana winds mixed with the Sundowner, a northerly offshore wind in Santa Barbara.
On Thursday, a 32-year-old firefighter died on duty near the town of Fillmore. There have been no civilian casualties reported.
Over 750 family homes have been destroyed, as well as two apartment complexes and two mixed commercial and residential buildings. Another 18,000 structures were under threat.
Official estimates have placed the total cost of the fire at over $110 million so far.
Authorities do not expect the blaze to be fully contained until January 7, 2018.