Southern California fire shuts highway, forces evacuations


SOLVANG, Calif .: Evacuation orders were extended Tuesday due to a growing wildfire fueled by high winds that has closed off a key area of ​​the south California highway for more than a day.
At least 200 firefighters fought the Alisal Fire, which had burned 31 square kilometers along the Santa Barbara County coastline and remained completely uncontained.
The fire broke out on a ridge Monday and hurtled into the ocean, forcing the closure of US 101, the only major highway on that section of shoreline. Evacuation orders and warnings were put in place for various areas of the sparsely populated region.
“ The fire is burning in a dense chaparral and is being pushed by strong winds and is growing at a rapid rate, ” an update on the fire said Tuesday. The gusts reached 70 mph (113 kph) in some areas, authorities said.
In Northern California, fire crews increased containment for a fire that destroyed 25 mobile homes, 16 mobile homes and a building at the Rancho Marina mobile home park in Sacramento County. At least 20 structures were still under threat, according to the River Delta Fire District.
No injuries were reported and the cause remains under investigation.
To the south, in San Joaquin County, a man was burned and about five mobile homes were damaged by the flames that swept through the Islander Mobile Home Park, Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Josh capper he told Fox40-TV.
The wounded man suffered severe third-degree burns to most of his body, Capper said.
The powerful gusts that hit the state Monday also toppled trees and kicked up blinding clouds of dust. Red flag warnings for critical fire danger remained in effect Tuesday across much of Northern California’s interior, and minor wind warnings continue in Santa Barbara County.
In anticipation of the wind event, utility company Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to some 24,000 customers in targeted areas of 23 counties on Monday to prevent fires from starting if gusts damaged electrical equipment.
While it was in the process of restoring service Tuesday, PG&E said it may need to cut power to about 29,000 customers in 19 counties Thursday due to a potential wildfire threat.
The PG&E team was blamed for a 2018 fire that wiped out most of the town of Paradise in Butte County. The company filed for bankruptcy and pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter. PG&E also faces criminal charges for arson caused by its frayed equipment, including manslaughter charges in connection with a fire near the city of Redding last year that killed four.
Windy weather is a nightmare for firefighters in a state where heat waves and a historic drought linked to climate change have left forests and brush dry. The fires that started in late summer are still burning after destroying hundreds of homes.
In the Sierra Nevada, the KNP complex fire that may have burned hundreds of giant redwoods was only 30% contained.

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