Friday, June 17, 2016

Southern California wildfire: Officials declare emergency; nearly 300 structures at risk

Government officials in California's Santa Barbara County declared an emergency Friday, stemming from a fast-moving wildfire that grew by nearly 3,000 acres in just a few hours.

The Sherpa Fire, which started Wednesday afternoon, has prompted mandatory evacuations and sweeping road closures in the Southern California community.

The blaze, kept burning by decades-old vegetation and strong "sundowner" winds, moved to U.S. Route 101 between El Capitan State Beach and Gaviota, forcing the California Highway Patrol to shut down the highway for several hours. Rail service in the area was also shut down overnight.'

Experts say sundowner winds, which arrive at dusk, create conditions that allow the flames to grow rapidly. Forecasters said they, and other weather patterns favorable to wildfires, are likely to continue...

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