November 14, 2008

Emergency Declared in California Wildfire

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Santa Barbara County Friday as an out-of-control wildfire raged near Montecito.

The wind-driven Tea Fire destroyed more than 100 homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate their neghborhoods after breaking out shortly after sunset Thursday.

Schwarzenegger said in a written statement that he was making all state resources available to the fire commanders and was requesting assistance from the federal government as well.

The Montecito Fire Department issued a public appeal for county residents to conserve water in order to maintain the levels of critically low reservoirs.

The fire was estimated at 2,500 acres Friday morning and had caused 10 injuries, including smoke inhalation and burns, as it was pushed into residential areas the Los Angeles Times described as having incredible views and stands of trees that include oaks and highly flammable eucalyptus.

Montecito, located a few hours north of Los Angeles, has attracted celebrity homeowners including actors Michael Douglas and Rob Lowe, and talk show host Oprah Winfrey.