California Wildfire Proves Stubborn

By: AP
By: AP

LOS OLIVOS, Calif. (AP) - More than 2,000 firefighters struggled Sunday to surround a stubborn wildfire that had grown to 18,450
acres in Los Padres National Forest.

The 11-day-old Zaca Fire continued to burn eastward through
chaparral and oak trees in the San Rafael Wilderness in the rugged
interior of Santa Barbara County. The 597-square-mile wilderness
and surrounding areas of the forest remained closed to visitors.

The blaze was 46 percent surrounded, but officials expected full
containment to take at least two weeks partly because of the
forest's steep, broken terrain.

"It's a wilderness area. It's very inaccessible. They have to
fly firefighters in," said Fire Spokesman Joel Vela.

Fourteen firefighters suffered minor injuries. Twenty aircraft
and three dozen dozers were working the blaze, which began July 4
from sparks from grinding equipment used to repair a water pipe.

Hot temperatures caused to fire to grow this weekend, feeding on
nearby brush and oak stands that had not burned in 40 years. Crews
were trying to prevent flames from jumping a river and threatening
the towns of Tepusquet and Figueroa Mountain. As a precaution,
secondary containment lines had been erected.

Santa Barbara County officials issued a health advisory because
of smoke. Residents were urged to limit outdoor activities and
those with asthma and other respiratory diseases were told to be
cautious.

Also, near the Oregon border, a series of 32 small fires sparked
by lightning in the Klamath National Forest had spread Sunday to
cover 2,500 acres. The fires were 10 percent contained.

One of the fires was nearing about 40 homes in the town of Happy
Camp, but firefighters were optimistic the community would not have
to evacuate, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Phyllis Swanson.

Elsewhere in northern California, firefighters had contained six
of seven lightning-caused fires burning in the Six Rivers National
Forest, said Brian Morris, a Forest Service spokesman.

The remaining blaze was burning over 110 acres in the
backcountry and was expected to be fully contained by July 20.

"We've been making excellent progress the last few days,"
Morris said. "The weather has been helping us. We've been having
some cloud cover, which keeps the fire activity low."

In the Eastern Sierra, the 35,000-acre fire in the Inyo National
Forest was contained Friday at a cost of $3.2 million. In the
Plumas National Forest, about 125 miles northeast of Sacramento,
crews started pulling dirt and vegetation back over bulldozer lines
that were cut to fight a 23,000-acre blaze contained Friday
evening.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


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