July 11, 2008

Wildfires Threaten Carmel Valley

Firefighters worked to set up fire breaks to prevent a wildfire moving through Los Padres National Forest in California from reaching Carmel Valley.

Fed by high temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds, the Basin Complex Fire spread across the rough terrain of Ventana Wilderness toward the town of Carmel Valley just miles away, The Salinas Californian reported Friday.

If flames breach the fire line above Carmel Valley, the Basin Complex Fire will pose an immediate threat to the well-populated and well-wooded town, said CalFire Battalion Chief Paul Van Gerwen.

Near Santa Barbara, firefighters battled a wildfire in the mountains, trying to keep the Gap fire from spreading north and west into sparsely populated areas of the Santa Ynez Mountains, the Ventura Country Star reported.

Unlike the lightning-started wildfires in Northern California, investigators said the Gap fire was caused by humans, said Ron Meyer, a federal fire team spokesman.

That does not mean it was set up on purpose, he said, noting investigators still are looking into how the blaze started.

High pressure will feed hot, dry air in California into the weekend, AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Justin Povick said. Showers and thunderstorms were predicted from far western California into Arizona and New Mexico, he said, but storms expected in the interior sections of California would be dry, producing just lightning.