A small brush fire forced evacuations Sunday in Santa Barbara.

The Bridge Fire burned about 8 acres, but there were no reports of damage or injuries. Evacuations for the area of Cieneguitas Roadd and Calle Caridad, west of Winther Way, and north of Foothill Road were lifted at about midnight.

Details about a cause were not immediately available, but fire officials said the fire was “deemed suspicious,” KSBY reported.

Fuel moisture levels are well below historic averages in parts of Southern California, meaning vegetation is drying out more quickly this year. Dry vegetation is one significant factor in the spread of wildfires.

The state is coming of one of its driest late winters on record, leaving hillsides covered in dry brush.

California continues to face longer wildfire seasons as a direct result of climate change, according to CAL FIRE.

“Extended dryness originating from January is expected to continue into the spring with little precipitation, leaving most of the state in moderate to extreme drought conditions prior to summer,” the state’s firefighting agency said in a 2022 fire season outlook. “These continued dry conditions, with above normal temperatures through spring, will leave fuel moisture levels lower than normal, increasing the potential for wildland fire activity.”

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