close
close

The largest blaze of California's wildfire season, the Lake Fire in Santa Barbara County, has grown to nearly 30,000 acres by Wednesday, fueled by gusty winds and extreme temperatures, authorities said.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Lake Fire near the Los Padres National Forest has charred 28,987 acres, mostly grassland and forest, and increased by 2,000 acres between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

At least 1,500 people were still evacuated on Wednesday.

“It's scary,” Raymond Williams, who has lived in the area his entire life, told ABC News as he watched the direction of smoke and flames in the hills near his home. “I know a lot of people who live in the area, a lot of families live in this area. I hope they can keep the buildings safe.”

Despite the fire's spread, requiring numerous evacuations, the more than 2,400 firefighters battling the blaze are making progress, increasing the fire suppression rate from 12% to 16%, according to Cal Fire.

The Lake Fire was one of 19 wildfires raging in California on Wednesday, Cal Fire said.

The wildfire, about 40 miles north of the city of Santa Barbara, started Friday afternoon near Zaca Lake in the Los Padres National Forest.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department issued evacuation orders Saturday night as the fire grew out of control. The evacuation orders, which remained in effect Wednesday, included the 5000 block of Figueroa Mountain Road, where Michael Jackson's former ranch is located, officials said.

The Lake Fire rages near Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, California on July 6, 2024.

David Swanson/Reuters

According to the sheriff's office, warnings were also issued to residents in surrounding areas to prepare for evacuation.

As of Wednesday, only the destruction of a single building had been reported.

“Significant fire activity on the southeast side of the fire area has resulted in additional evacuations and an increase in the fire area,” Cal Fire said in an updated statement on Wednesday.

The wildfire broke out during a heat wave that swept the region and much of California.

“A heat warning through next week continues to impact the fire, with high temperatures, drying vegetation and little relief at night. The National Weather Service has reported that this region has not experienced a heat wave this intense and prolonged in 20 years,” Cal Fire said in a statement.

The fire has spread rapidly in recent days as temperatures rose above 35 degrees Celsius and relative humidity was around 11 percent.

“As relative humidity drops, fire danger increases because fine fuels such as grass and pine needles dry out more quickly,” said a statement from the Western Fire Chiefs Association (WFCA).

The cause of the fire is currently being investigated.

A firefighting helicopter drops water near Los Olivos, California, on July 6, 2024, as the Lake Fire rages in the Los Padres National Forest and evacuation warnings have been issued for the area.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Northern Fire

The North Fire broke out Sunday afternoon in Northern California west of Mount Shasta near the Oregon border. The North Fire in Modoc County, fed by dry pasture grasses, has spread to 4,389 acres and was 60% contained as of Wednesday, according to Cal Fire.

The Modoc County Sheriff's Office issued mandatory evacuation orders for homes and businesses in the path of the fire, including the communities of West Valley, Wormville and Mill Creek Falls.

Shelly Fire

One Northern California wildfire that burned out of control Wednesday was the Shelly Fire in Siskiyou County, also near the Oregon border, according to Cal Fire. The fire, which started Sunday in the Klamath National Forest near Lake Shelly and the Pacific Crest Trail, had burned 8,285 acres as of Wednesday and was 0% contained, according to Cal Fire.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents in the path of the fire and warned others to prepare to flee.

An Orange County crew keeps an eye on the Lake Fire as it burns near Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, California, July 6, 2024.

David Swanson/Reuters

Basin fire in the San Joaquin Valley

The state's most stubborn fire, the Basin Fire, raging in the foothills east of Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley, was 85 percent contained as of Wednesday after burning 14,027 acres, according to Cal Fire. The fire started June 26 in the Sierra National Forest north of Pine Flat Lake and south of Shaver Lake and Wishon Reservoir.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Temperatures in the Basin Fire area are expected to remain in the triple digits throughout the week.

French fire near Yosemite National Park

According to Cal Fire, the French Fire near Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County has burned 364 acres since it broke out Thursday and was 80 percent contained as of Wednesday.

Three firefighters were injured while battling the wildfire that destroyed four buildings, Cal Fire said.

McCain fire in San Diego County

Another significant fire in Southern California is the McCain Fire, which broke out on July 1 in southeastern San Diego County.

By Wednesday, the fire, which had destroyed 614 hectares of land, had been almost completely extinguished. Firefighters had managed to contain it by 95%.

Royal Fire

As of Wednesday, the Royal Fire had burned 215 acres in Northern California's Placer County, according to Cal Fire. The fire was 15% contained as of Wednesday.

Earlier this week, 13 hikers stranded in a wildfire area near Tahoe National Forest were rescued, authorities said.

The Placer County Sheriff's Office launched a search for the hikers after finding their vehicles in the area where the Royal Fire broke out around 4 p.m. Sunday.

According to the Placer County Sheriff's Office, a rescue helicopter crew found the group around 7:20 a.m. PT on Monday. A rescue team was dispatched to the area and removed the hikers from danger, according to the sheriff's office.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *