The Latest: Emergency declared on 2 California wildfires


BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):

7 p.m.

Acting California Gov. Tom Torlakson has now declared a state of emergency for both major wildfires burning in the state.

The declaration issued Tuesday frees up state resources and temporarily sets aside regulations for the firefight and the recovery.

The fire in Monterey County near Big Sur has burned 20 homes and is threatening a scenic stretch of coastline.

The blaze in Los Angeles County destroyed 18 homes and killed one person.

Torlakson, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, is acting as the state’s chief executive because Gov. Jerry Brown and several other top officials who would normally replace him are all at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

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6 p.m.

Acting California Gov. Tom Torlakson has declared a state of emergency for a major wildfire that has burned 18 homes and killed one person in the Los Angeles area.

The declaration issued Tuesday frees up state resources and temporarily sets aside regulations for the firefight and the recovery.

The fire in rugged wilderness between the northern edge of Los Angeles and the suburban city of Santa Clarita has burned 58½ square miles (152 square kilometers) and at its peak forced about 20,000 people to evacuate, though most have now returned.

Torlakson, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, is acting as the state’s chief executive because Gov. Jerry Brown and several other top officials who would normally replace him are all at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

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1:10 p.m.

Authorities say a man who was found dead in a car at the scene of a Southern California wildfire refused to evacuate as the flames approached.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office identifies him Tuesday as 67-year-old Robert Bresnick.

He was visiting a friend in Santa Clarita, where a wildfire has burned 18 homes.

Assistant Chief Ed Winter says firefighters tried to get Bresnick and a woman living at the home in Santa Clarita to evacuate Saturday as the flames approached but they refused.

Winter says the woman eventually left but the man went back into the home.

Winter says his burned body was found about 20 minutes later in a car in the driveway after flames had swept through the area.

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12:50 p.m.

Authorities say a large wildfire burning in the backcountry of northwest Wyoming is threatening hundreds of seasonal homes and has forced scores to flee.

The fire in the Shoshone National Forest west of Dubois has burned nearly 11 square miles and is putting about 290 homes and guest ranches at risk in the remote area.

No homes have been lost so far. Wyoming state forester Bill Crapser says about 900 people have evacuated.

Gov. Matt Mead activated a National Guard helicopter to assist, and more specialized firefighters and large air tankers are being added as the blaze burns out of control.

In neighboring Bridger-Teton National Forest, a fire has grown to 26 square miles and is partially contained.

Two smaller fires are burning in the Bighorn National Forest.

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10:10 a.m.

The signature state parks of California’s grand Big Sur coast are closed as one of the state’s two major wildfires expands in the region.

Closures as of Tuesday in the major tourism destination include Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Andrew Molera State Park and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, among others.

Spokesman Dennis Weber says facilities aren’t endangered but officials decided to get the public out of the areas for safety and to keep roads clear and avoid exposure to bad air quality.

Weber says a total of about 7,500 people a day visit the affected parks.

Closures also include the Point Sur lighthouse park, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and Garrapata State Park.

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7:42 a.m.

A wildfire burning near the scenic Big Sur region on the California coast has grown to 30 square miles.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the blaze is 10 percent contained Tuesday morning.

The fire has destroyed 20 homes and two outbuildings, and some 300 residents have been forced out of their homes.

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7:10 a.m.

The huge wildfire north of Los Angeles has grown to 58½ square miles, but containment has also increased.

The fire command says the blaze is 25 percent surrounded Tuesday morning.

Most of the evacuation orders affecting 10,000 homes were lifted Monday night.

Nearly 3,000 firefighters are working the blaze, along with 356 fire engines and 26 helicopters.

The fire erupted Friday afternoon in Santa Clarita, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

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6:05 a.m.

Crews took advantage of calmer winds and cooler temperatures overnight as they set backfires to curb the spread of a massive wildfire northwest of Los Angeles.

Most of the roughly 20,000 evacuees forced out by the blaze were cleared to go home Monday, but firefighters still have a huge job ahead. The fire, which has chewed through about 55 square miles of tinder-dry brush, is only partially contained.

Residents of two neighborhoods still under threat remain out of their homes.

Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief John Tripp says firefighters saved about 2,000 houses in the fire’s first three days.

Some 300 miles to the northwest, crews made gains Monday against a blaze in the scenic Big Sur region of the Central Coast that destroyed 20 homes.

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