Occupants of 400 homes and businesses were asked to evacuate in areas threatened by flames from the California fire, Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown said in a news conference on Thursday.
Fire officials say early Friday the blaze had calmed a bit after surging Thursday night.
USA 101, the state's main coastal highway, had to be shut down for hours for the second time since the fire erupted Wednesday.
The fire began about noon Wednesday and its cause is under investigation. No mandatory evacuations had been ordered but about two dozen homes were threatened in the Caughlin Ranch area neighborhoods on the edge of the foothills of the Sierra's eastern front.
In another part of the Southwest, firefighters on Friday sought to make headway against a wildfire in central New Mexico that has burned more than 16,000 acres (6,475 hectares) of timber and logging zones, and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate, officials said.
The fire was expected to continue moving east and northeast and posed an imminent threat to the small community of Chilili, the Tajique area, and the Ponderosa Pine residential area, according to U.S. Forest Service officials.
California Wildfire Grows, Fires Threaten Communities around West
In east-central Arizona, progress was made against a 15-square-mile blaze that broke out Wednesday south of Show Low.
There has not been a wildfire in this area for around six decades. At one point, the fire jumped over the center divider of the 101 Freeway due to the strong winds.
CalFire firefighters spray water on a controlled back fire while battling the so-called "Sherpa Fire", which has grown to over 1100 acres overnight, in the hills near Goleta, Calif., on Thursday.
The Los Angeles Fire Department is also fielding calls from residents anxious there might be a wildfire closer to home because of the smoke.
Wildfires have also broken out in Arizona and New Mexico.