A stubborn wildfire has forced at least 30,000 people to evacuate their homes and destroying 75 homes in the California coastal town of Santa Barbara as the flames continued for the fourth consecutive day.

The cause of the fire is not yet known and currently under investigation.

Once tame, the fire front now stretches for five miles, city Fire Chief Andrew DiMizio said. Literally last night, all hell broke loose, he said, the Associated Press reported.

The conflagration, marking the fourth wildfire to strike the affluent, picturesque Santa Barbara area in two years, had charred some 3,500 acres by daybreak after a night of hot, dry winds which drove flames across a highway and through more homes.

As of Friday morning, more than 30,000 area residents were ordered to leave their homes and about 23,000 others were warned to be ready to flee at a moment's notice, county officials said.

The numbers are equal to over half of the population of Santa Barbara, located 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles.