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California Wildfires Force More Evacuations, Air-Quality Alert

36.7N 119.4W

August 30th, 2009 Category: Fires

California Wildfires, USA - August 29th, 2009

California Wildfires, USA - August 29th, 2009

California - August 29th, 2009

California - August 29th, 2009

Fire Map

Fire Map

Three separate fires burning in Los Angeles County have forced the evacuation of another 150 homes, the county said, and officials issued an air-quality alert because of smoke from the fires.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Monterey counties because of the blazes.

The Station fire, which has consumed 5,500 acres (2,225 hectares) since it began three days ago in the Angeles National Forest near La Canada Flintridge, is only 5 percent contained, said Randi Jorgensen, a fire information officer who used to work for the U.S. Forest Service. About 870 homes already had been evacuated in that area, she said.

Firefighters aren’t likely to see much improvement in the weather today or tomorrow because of a high-pressure system that is preventing the flow of cooler, moist air from the ocean, said Mike Pigott, a meteorologist with in State College, Pennsylvania.

“There really isn’t going to be very much relief,” Pigott said. Temperatures are likely to range between 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) at the beaches to as hot as 106 degrees in some of the inland valleys near Los Angeles, he said. The other large fire is the Morris blaze, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Azusa, Jorgensen said. It has scorched 2,168 acres, as of 7 a.m. local time, and cost $4.5 million to fight, she said.

The National Weather Service office in Los Angeles/Oxnard, California, issued a red flag warning today until 9 p.m. local time for the mountains and foothills of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. That means widespread low humidity and hot temperatures could result in dangerous fire conditions.

In Monterey County, fire crews have completely controlled the Bryson blaze, which charred 3,383 acres since Aug. 26. The Gloria blaze in San Benito County, east of Gonzales, California, has burned 6,000 acres, up from 2,500 acres yesterday. It is 60 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Web site.

California has more than 5,200 firefighters battling eight major blazes across the state that have scorched more than 21,000 acres, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. Pigott said firefighters there will be aided by more moisture coming off the ocean that will cool temperatures to the low to mid-80s Fahrenheit tomorrow from mid-90s today.

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