California firefighters, planes trying to box in a wildfire

SANTA BARBARA: More than 1,300 firefighters, assisted by planes emptying water and fire protection, worked Thursday to contain a forest fire in a Southern California mountain range that has closed a major highway for several days.
Alisal Fire has charred more than 67 square miles of chapel and grass in the Santa Ynez Mountains west of Santa Barbara since it erupted on Monday in high winds. It contains 11%.
Authorities have said the fire is a threat to about 100 ranches and isolated homes. Among the properties protected is Rancho del Cielo, which was once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan and was used as their western refuge during his presidency. The 278-hectare ranch is located at the top of the mountain range.
Winds when the fire broke out blew flames along the mountain range towards the Pacific Ocean and the fire reached a beach after jumping on the US 101 highway and a railway line. The winds have changed since then but have been less intense.
Firefighters on Thursday focused on stopping the movement of the fire in the west after winds drove it so late on Wednesday, says fire information manager Kristen Allison.
Aircraft dropped a long line of fire protection along a ridge to prevent the fire from moving north and a burning scar burned slowed movement to the east. An older burn was in the west.
“The further this fire moves both east and west, it will move into some fire scars from previous forest fires, so those areas will not have nearly the amount of fuel for the fire to work with,” said Andrew Madsen, an information officer with Los Padres National. Forest.
The fire remained about half a mile (0.8 kilometers) from the former Reagan ranch on Thursday, he said Jessica Jensen, an official at the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative organization that now runs the farm.
The foundation has expressed confidence in measures to protect the farm.
The railway line reopened on Thursday afternoon but US 101 remained closed.
Elsewhere, gusts of wind, low humidity and dry vegetation triggered red flag warnings of a high fire hazard in parts of northern California.
Pacific Gas Electric initially planned to shut off power to thousands of customers in many counties on Thursday to prevent fires from being ignited by wind damage to power lines.
But the tool said the wind event seemed to be weaker than the one that led to thousands of shutdowns on Monday and then quickly diminished the latest plan for forced disruptions. At noon, customers in parts of only one county were faced with an announcement of a potential power outage.
California forest fires have burned nearly 3,900 square miles (10,101 square miles) this year and destroyed more than 3,600 homes, businesses and other structures, according to the State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
A historic drought in the American West that is linked to climate change makes it difficult to fight forest fires. It has killed millions of trees in California alone. Researchers say that climate change has made western heat much warmer and drier over the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and fires more frequent and destructive.

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