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Wildfires erupt in Southern California coastal mountains – Mercury News

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) – Forest fires in southern California’s coastal mountains have threatened farms and rural homes and closed a major highway Wednesday as the fire-hit state faces a new round of dry winds. Had to do, which increased the risk of flames.

The Alisal fire covered more than 22 square miles (57 square kilometers) in the Santa Anne Mountains west of Santa Barbara, and the number of firefighters almost doubled to 1,300, en route. Containment was 5%.

Fire officials said the natural areas along the Pacific coast are sparsely populated, with more than 100 homes, farms and other buildings at risk.

Firefighters were guarding Rancho del Cello, once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan and known as the Western White House during their presidency. The 688-acre (278-hectare) farm where world leaders, hosted by Reagan, sit on top of a mountain range, feed on thick chaparral and grass over flames.

The foundation’s vice president and chief of staff, Jessica Jensen, said the fire was about half a mile (0.8 kilometers) late Wednesday, according to staff reports, but that part of the fire was not as active as the others. , In an email to the Associated Press. “We are grateful that there was no fire on the Reagan Ranch property. The farm, itself, is still in a very defensive position,” Jensen wrote.

The area has not burned since 1955, according to the Young America Foundation, which now runs the farm.

The foundation said in a statement that fire engines were present on the farm property and that fire retardant would be sprayed around its structure. He noted that the helicopters had flooded one of the two lakes in the field.

“The Young America Foundation has emergency personnel on site, and our firefighting system has been tested and is ready to go,” he said.

The fire broke out Monday near the Elysal Reservoir, and strong winds from the north blew the flames out of the mountains, shutting down US 101 in western Santa Barbara County. At one point, the fire jumped off a four-lane highway and reached a beach. The closure has forced motorbikes to take short distances.

The National Weather Service says Wednesday night will be a new era of infamous hurricanes in southern Santa Barbara County, and other parts of California are expected to face an increased risk of fire.

Red flag warnings are expected due to low levels of kidneys and humidity in the interior of Northern California, and forecasters forecast fires in parts of Southern California on Friday due to Santa Ana winds forecast. Surveillance is planned.

Pacific Gas & Electric said it may have to cut off power to targeted parts of 13 Northern California counties on Thursday to prevent wildfires from igniting power lines. The utility has just restored power to about 25,000 customers who lost power due to Monday’s storm.

According to the State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, California’s wildfires have burned approximately 3,300 square miles (10,101 square kilometers) this year and damaged more than 3,600 homes, businesses and other structures. Destroyed.

A historic drought in the American West linked to climate change is making it harder to fight wildfires. It has killed millions of trees in California alone. Climate change has made the West much hotter and drier over the past 30 years, scientists say, and will continue to make the weather more intense and wildfires persistent and destructive.

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