Flames soaring into the air on the mesa overlooking the Santa Maria River prompted reports of a wildfire Thursday and sent fire engines from two counties racing to the scene.
Smoke was visible from downtown Santa Maria, and flames could be seen from the east side of town.
But as it turned out, the leaping flames were from a Santa Barbara County farmer’s controlled burning of four debris piles, said Capt. Zach Nichols of Cal Fire/San Luis Obispo County Fire Department.
“He got a little overzealous with his burn piles,” Nichols said. “But his burn permit was valid, there was no fire spread and it’s not fire season yet, so we couldn’t cite him for it.”
Santa Barbara County Fire Department also responded to the fire that was reported shortly after noon.