As of 9 p.m. Monday, it had swelled to 3,000 acres and was 0% contained, Santa Barbara County officials said in their local emergency declaration.
The fire started at about 4 p.m. Monday in Los Padres National Forest and quickly grew to about 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares) as winds gusted up to 30 miles per hour (48 kph).
Driven by wind gusts of 30 miles per hour, the rapidly developing fire has now covered more than almost 3,300 acres, with zero percent contained.
The National Weather Service said as much as an inch of rain was expected to hit the area by midnight.
A press conference is about to get underway in Santa Barbara where updates on the Cave Fire are expected to be released. It began Monday afternoon near East Camino Cielo and Painted Cave Road and is starting to move down the canyon; it is being pushed south by "northerly winds", the newspaper reported. Evacuation warnings are for 154 west to Fairrview and Ontare East to Gibraltar.
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"Maintain situational awareness. If you're not in evac zone, self evacuate if you are concerned or need extra time", the office of Santa Barbara County said in a post on its official Twitter account.
The Santa Barbara County Highway Patrol (Santa Barbara CHP) also announced: "SR 154 closures at SR 246 at SR 154 and SR 154 at SR 192". Drivers can use Highway 101 as an alternate route. The Ventura County Fire Department said it sent two strike teams of 10 fire engines to assist.
Crews earlier on Tuesday were battling a wind-driven brushfire that's threatened homes near the town of Goleta north of Santa Barbara.
The fire was mainly burning in the forest but evacuations were ordered north of Cathedral Oaks in Goleta in the foothills.
Smoke from the Cave Fire and prescribed burns in neighboring counties was impacting Santa Barbara County air quality Monday, and the Air Pollution Control District has real-time monitoring information on its website here.
The dangers of the cycle of fire and flood is a raw memory in the region.