Hundreds evacuated over southern California wildfire

Andrew Cummings
June 20, 2016

At the site of the Sherpa Fire near Santa Barbara, Calif., crews Saturday morning gave thanks that predicted nighttime winds failed to materialize.

Firefighters took advantage of cooler weather overnight to reinforce holding lines around a blaze that has destroyed two dozen homes.

Three days after the fire erupted in the Manzano Mountains south of Albuquerque, it remained "extremely active", said fire information officer Denise Ottaviano.

The fire had tripled in size from 1,200 acres (486 hectares) on Thursday night to more than 4,000 acres (1,619 hectares) early on Friday, fire officials said.

"While the size of the fire more than doubled in size in the last 24 hours, there's been only minor structural loss and no civilian or firefighter injuries", said Eric Peterson, Santa Barbara County's fire chief.

"While much of the smoke from the distant fire is dispersed and remains aloft, smoke may affect communities across the South Coast Air Basin at times", according to the advisory.

In eastern Arizona, a fire that has burned 19 square miles southwest of Show Low advanced south, but containment increased to 40 percent.

More than 1,200 firefighters attacked the California fire, which has engulfed almost 12 square miles of mountain and agricultural lands.

The fire has been stoked by the region's afternoon and evening "Sundowner" winds, which blast down the face of the Santa Ynez Mountains toward the Pacific Ocean. On the East side of the fire, crews will continue with contingency lines.

Other residents were warned to be ready to leave upon receiving an evacuation order in areas east of El Capitan Canyon to Farren Road, including Canada de las Destiladera, Las Llagas Canyon, Gato Canyon, Las Varas Canyon, Dos Pueblos Canyon and Eagle Canyon. Rounds of gusty sundowner winds have made the firefight tougher for the more than 1,200 firefighters working on the ground and in the air to quell the flames.

A brush fire that broke out Sunday near downtown Los Angeles threatened a densely populated, hilly neighborhood along a freeway as sizzling temperatures elevated fire danger across the West. There are 1,230 firefighters battling the blaze from multiple agencies as well as 83 engines, 33 hand crews, nine dozers and four water tenders, according to officials.

The blaze was only 5 percent contained as of the morning of June the 17th.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department posted a picture of firefighters near El Capitan State Beach taking shelter behind a fire engine as flames and a hail of embers roared toward them.

Early Saturday Highway 101 remained open, but there was a hard closure of Calle Real from El Capitan to Refugio Road.

Vehicles were stopped in the northbound lanes on Highway 101 in front of El Capitan Canyon prior the freeway being closed on Thursday, June the 16th, 2016.



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