Representatives for Lowe and Winfrey confirmed that the celebrities' homes had not been destroyed, and that neither was staying in the area on Thursday night. Dozens of large multimillion-dollar houses appeared engulfed by flames in TV footage.
About a quarter of the community of 10,000 people was evacuated, and more could be moved if the fire spreads. The fire, which broke out shortly before 6 p.m., quickly spread through more than 800 acres in the foothills five miles south of Santa Barbara.
"It looked like lava coming down a volcano," Fox News quoted one Leslie Hollis Lopez as saying as she gathered belongings from her house. Santa Barbara County officials said that about 125 engines and three water-dropping helicopters were en route or at the scene.
Southern California Edison spokesman Paul Klein revealed that the fire temporarily knocked out power to more than 20,000 homes in Santa Barbara, and that only scattered pockets of homes were without power by late Thursday. The fire even burnt a dormitory building and several other classroom facilities at Westmont College.