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A wildfire near Reagan’s Western White House in California

SOLWANG, California (AP) – A major coastal highway remained closed Wednesday and evacuation orders were issued following a growing fire from strong winds that increased the risk of wildfires in most parts of California.

County fire officials said more than 200 firefighters battled the Ellis Fire, which covered 21 square miles (54 square kilometers) along coastal Santa Barbara County and controlled only 5 percent.

The fire was burning near Rancho del Cello, once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan and known as the Western White House during their presidency. Firefighters were guarding the field where Reagan hosted world leaders.

The fire broke out on a shore on Monday and spread to the sea, forcing the closure of US 101, the only major highway in this part of the coast. There were evacuation orders and warnings for farms and many rural communities.

While the area was sparsely populated, the fire threatened more than 100 homes, farms and other buildings, fire officials said.

“The fire is burning in dense chaprals and is being pushed by strong winds and is growing rapidly,” a fire update said Tuesday.

The fire was burning near Rancho del Cello, once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan and known as the Western White House during their presidency. Firefighters were guarding the field where Reagan hosted world leaders.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency Tuesday and asked Government Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency to release more state resources for firefighters and evacuations.

In Northern California, firefighters contained the blaze, which destroyed 25 mobile homes, 16 RVs and a park building in Sacramento County’s Rancho Marina RV Park.

No casualties were reported, and the cause is being investigated.

In the south of San Joaquin County, a man suffered severe third-degree burns on most of his body and damaged about five mobile homes in the fire, which spread to Island Mobile Home Park. .

On Monday, strong gusts across the state knocked down trees and blinded clouds of dust. In anticipation of the wind event, Pacific Gas & Electric Utility cut off power to about 24,000 consumers in targeted areas of 23 counties on Monday to prevent fires if electrical equipment was damaged.

The weather improved somewhat and power was restored on Tuesday, but the red flag warning for the extreme fire threat will return on Thursday, and PG&E said it would be reopened on Thursday due to the new threat. Approximately 29,000 consumers in 19 counties could be cut off.

PG&E Appliances was blamed for the 2018 fire that wiped out most of Butt County’s Paradise Town. The company filed for bankruptcy and pleaded guilty to 84 counts of unlawful murder. PG&E also faces criminal charges for arson caused by its flammable equipment, including involuntary manslaughter after four people were killed in a fire near Reading last year.

Windy weather is a nightmare for firefighters in a state where heat waves and the historic drought associated with climate change have dried up forests and brush. The fire, which started in late summer, is still burning after destroying hundreds of homes.

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