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California Fires Threaten Homes, Force Evacuations in Two Areas

36.7N 119.4W

August 14th, 2009 Category: Fires

Fires in California, Hurricane Guillermo south of Baja California, USA - August 13rd, 2009

Fires in California, Hurricane Guillermo south of Baja California, USA - August 13rd, 2009

Fires, Northwest of Los Angeles

Fires, Northwest of Los Angeles

Fires, Northwest of Los Angeles

Fires, Northwest of Los Angeles

Fires, South of San Francisco

Fires, South of San Francisco

Two California wildfires, one south of San Francisco and the other northwest of Los Angeles, burned across 51,000 acres today and threatened more than 1,250 homes, authorities said.

Officials ordered 2,400 residents in Swanton and Bonny Doon, 70 miles (113 kilometers) from San Francisco, to flee the fire, which has consumed 2,800 acres (1,120 hectares) and is raging out of control, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

At the same time, some 1,900 firefighters are battling a blaze that has burned at least 48,457 acres in the Los Padres National Forest area of Santa Barbara County, said the state agency, known as Cal Fire.

The Southern California blaze, called the La Brea fire, threatens 21 homes and nine other buildings about 140 miles northwest of Los Angeles, according to the state agency. Steep terrain and isolated locations are making both fires harder to fight, according to authorities.

Residents of about 150 homes and ranches were ordered to evacuate in the face of the advancing La Brea blaze, which began last weekend in a remote section of the forest, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department Web site.

The fire has been “very active” in the past 12 hours, expanding by 10,000 acres, the Los Padres National Forest Service said on its Web site yesterday evening local time. Firefighters are using bulldozers, helicopters and planes. The Los Padres National Forest stretches across nearly 2 million acres from the Big Sur Coast in Monterey County to the western edge of Los Angeles. In May, the Jesusita fire in Santa Barbara forced the evacuation of thousands of people before it was contained.

Temperatures in the area are expected to reach 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius) today with winds from the west-northwest at about 15 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures in the area of the Bonny Doon fire may reach 80, the weather service said. An air quality alert because of smoke was issued by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

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