July 6, 2008

Firefighters Getting Upper Hand on Wildfires

By The Sacramento Bee, Calif.

Jul. 6--California firefighting crews have gotten the upper hand on most of the wildfires burning throughout the state, with 1,450 of them reported as contained by this morning, officials said Sunday.

There still are 331 active fires burning and more than 558,000 acres have burned as a result of the blazes that have erupted around the state since June 20, CalFire said. Major concerns remain in the Santa Barbara and Big Sur areas. In Santa Barbara, the Gap fire has burned more than 9,300 acres since Tuesday in an area 3.5 miles north of Goleta. It was 28 percent contained Sunday morning.

In Big Sur, more than 72,000 acres have burned since a fire was ignited by lightning June 21. State Highway 1 remains closed, and that fire is 11 percent contained. Evacuations still are ordered in portions of Monterey, Santa Barbara and Shasta counties.

National Guard troops ordered into service by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are scheduled to complete their firefighting training today at McClellan Air Park, which has become a focal point in organizing the firefighting effort.

Firefighting aircraft at McClellan have flown 160 missions so far, dropping nearly 425,000 gallons of fire retardant on wildfires, CalFire said.

In Sacramento, meanwhile, firefighters continued work Sunday mopping up efforts to kill a brush fire that erupted in Discovery Park Saturday night, a fire dispatcher said.

The fire broke out in heavy brush on a side of the park that is not used by the public, but it caused no damage or injuries and teams were working to fully extinguish it. A cause for the blaze is not yet known.


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