California wildfire shuts highway, forces evacuations

California wildfire shuts highway, forces evacuations

A major Southern California highway remained closed on Wednesday and evacuation orders were in place from a growing blaze driven by intense winds

Evacuation orders were expanded Tuesday for a growing wildfire driven by intense winds that has shut down a key Southern California highway for more than a day.

A major Southern California highway remained closed on Wednesday and evacuation orders were in place from a growing blaze driven by intense winds that raised the risk of wildfires in much of the state.

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At least 200 firefighters battled the Alisal fire, which had scorched 21 square miles (54 square kilometres) along coastal Santa Barbara County and was only 5% contained, county fire officials said.

Destructive California wildfires driven by intense winds caused damage at two mobile home parks, destroying some trailers, and one person suffered burns, officials said.

The fires on Monday also toppled trees, whipped up blinding dust clouds and forced the a utility to cut power to thousands of customers in an effort to prevent wildfires.

"The fire is burning in dense chaparral and is being pushed by strong winds and growing at a rapid rate of speed,” a fire update said Tuesday. Gusts reached 70 mph (113 kph) in some areas, officials said.

In Northern California, fire crews increased the containment of a blaze that destroyed 25 mobile homes, 16 RVs and a park building at the Rancho Marina RV Park in Sacramento County. At least 20 structures were still threatened, according to the River Delta fire District.

While the area was lightly populated, the blaze threatened more than 100 homes, ranches and other buildings, fire officials said.

Although the winds were easing on Tuesday, about 30 structures were destroyed Monday afternoon when wind-driven flames roared through the Rancho Marina RV Park in Sacramento County, River Delta Fire District Deputy Chief Hugh Henderson told ABC10-TV. No injuries were reported and the cause remained under investigation.

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