Central Coast Fires Prompt Forest Closure

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) - Officials have closed some 88,000 acres of the Los Padres National Forest as crews continued to battle five fires sparked by a lightning storm.

The fires, which had scorched nearly 250 acres of brush in northern Santa Barbara County by Saturday night, are about 5 percent contained.

Officials did not know when to expect full containment.

The forest closure encompassed the northernmost portion of the San Rafael Wilderness, an area of backcountry roads and rustic camp sites popular with deer hunters.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-08-17-08 0119EDT

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