Several thousand campers flee Santa Barbara wildfire

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Firefighting aircraft

(AP Photo)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — It may have been the last day of the trip anyway for some, but as many as 6,000 Memorial Day campers had to bolt when a wildfire in the California mountains near Santa Barbara became a threat.

The flames were fanned by the wind and quickly grew to 1,000 acres, or 1.5 square miles, in Los Padres National Forest. Fire officials say the blaze was threatening about 50 homes, many of them cabins and vacation rentals, and 50 to 75 residents had evacuated.

At last report, the U.S. Forest Service put containment at 10 percent. It’s grown to about 2.8 square miles.

While winds have made the battle more difficult, fire crews are hoping that falling temperatures and rising humidity will help.

The American Red Cross has set up an evacuation center at Santa Barbara City College and another was set up for horses stalled in the area’s many stables.

The county has issued an air quality warning because of the smoke and wind, advising people to limit time spent outdoors and to avoid outdoor exercise altogether.

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