Humidity Helps, Hinders Crews Fighting Huge SoCal Fire

Crews fighting a seven-week-old wildfire in the Santa Barbara County wilderness received a mixed blessing today as higher humidity is slowing the fire but making it harder to burn off the dense brush in its path.

The so-called Zaca Fire, which nudged its way into Ventura County this week, is 83 percent contained after burning more than 235,000 acres, or about 368 square miles of steep backcountry.

The fire is about 15 miles from the community of Ojai and does not threaten any other large communities.

Despite its size, the fire has only destroyed one structure, an outbuilding.

The blaze increased by about 3,000 acres overnight on its active northern front.

Crews set backfires yesterday to burn up chaparral and form a blackened fireline - a tactic that was successfully used in the past week to partially box the fire.

However, they had to stop the effort when humidity became too high for the brush to burn well.

Today's humidity is a moist 47 percent as a coastal marine layer dampens the canyon lands inland.

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