California wildfires burn near Los Angeles and Big Sur


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Wildfires burned out of control Saturday in mountains north of Los Angeles and near Big Sur on California’s scenic Central Coast, posing a threat to some 1,300 homes and a sanctuary for exotic animals which was being evacuated, authorities said.

Southern California firefighters faced another day of triple-digit heat from a dome of high pressure over the region, and while Central Coast temperatures were more moderate, conditions included winds and low humidity.

The fire in northern Los Angeles County grew to more than 17 square miles, spreading smoke across the city and suburbs, reducing the sun to an orange disk at times.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District warned that at times air would reach unhealthy levels.

The fire erupted Friday afternoon in the Sand Canyon area near State Route 14 as the region was gripped by high heat and very low humidity.

About 300 homes were under mandatory or voluntary evacuations, but none had burned.

Hundreds of county and Angeles National Forest firefighters battled the blaze, aided by three dozen water-dropping helicopters and retardant-dropping airplanes.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy said the fire was just 10 percent contained at midday.

Some 400 animals were being evacuated from the Wildlife Waystation, a nonprofit sanctuary for rescued exotic creatures within the national forest.

The sanctuary’s Facebook page appealed for donations of flatbed and enclosed trucks as well as an air-conditioned warehouse to house the animals.

Over many years, the sanctuary has cared for thousands of animals ranging from lions and tigers to primates and exotic birds.

Metrolink train service in the area was halted Friday and on Saturday was subject to delays.

About 300 miles up the coast, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighters battled a nearly 3-square-mile blaze in rugged mountains north of the majestic Big Sur region.

The blaze 5 miles south of Garrapata State Park posed a threat to 1,000 homes and the community of Palo Colorado was ordered evacuated, Cal Fire said. A middle school in Carmel-by-the-Sea was readied as an evacuation center.

More than 300 firefighters were on the lines.

Highway 1 and businesses in the Big Sur area, a major summer tourist destination, remained open.

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