Wildfires scorch parts of California, Arizona

A wildfire in the Santa Barbara, California, area has forced some homeowners to evacuate.
A wind-whipped fire expanded to 450 acres early Wednesday in the hills above Santa Barbara, California, causing residents of 1,000 homes to flee and putting 2,000 other homes in peril, emergency officials said

The flames were burning within a mile of several homes, said Pat Wheatley with the Santa Barbara County Emergency Operations Center. Ten businesses also were under an evacuation advisory. There have been no injuries or homes or businesses damaged and only sporadic power outages, Wheatley said. Sixty-five firefighters are combating the blaze, and 14 strike teams from around the state are expected to arrive Wednesday. Fire officials also are awaiting the arrival of a fixed-wing aircraft Wednesday to help combat the fire. Two helicopters already are performing water drops from Santa Barbara Junior High School. The fire began in the Cathedral Peak area around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, prompting at least seven school closures for Wednesday. Watch scenes from the fire ยป

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The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for the area, with winds clocked at 20 mph to 30 mph. Evacuation centers have been set up across the county for people as well as animals. Large animals can be taken to Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, county officials said. The Santa Barbara Humane Society in Goleta is taking care of small animals. Meanwhile early Wednesday, firefighters battled a 2,000-acre brush fire in the Coronado National Forest in southern Arizona, U.S. forestry officials said. One person was injured in the blaze and airlifted for treatment, said Teresa Ann Ciapusci with the U.S. Forest Service. The fire has destroyed at least four houses and a number of outbuildings.

“The fire was initially reported around 1 p.m. to have started on private land and subsequently moved on to National Forest System lands” about 50 miles southeast of Tucson and 10 miles west of Sierra Vista, Ciapusci said. The Red Cross has a team at the West Gate subdivision to assist residents who lost their homes, forestry officials said.