Raging wildfires across California force nearly 8000 to evacuate: ‘It was terrifying’ – Los Angeles Times

With a heat wave continuing to bake California and the rest of the West, wildfires forced nearly 8,000 people to dash for safety Sunday as flames destroyed homes and threatened thousands of structures across the state.

Along the Central Coast, firefighters battled two major blazes on opposite ends of Santa Barbara County. Efforts Sunday focused on protecting mountain peaks that hold crucial communication and electrical infrastructure, including a high-voltage line that carries power to Santa Barbara and neighboring cities.

The Alamo fire, near Highway 166 in northern Santa Barbara County, was the largest active fire in California and was 15% contained after burning more than 37 square miles as of Sunday evening, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. At least 200 people were forced to evacuate a remote area east of Santa Maria, and about 1,000 firefighters from Los Angeles and across the state rushed to help control the flames, Cal Fire said.

About 35 miles to the south in Santa Barbara County, more than 3,500 people have fled the Whittier fire near Lake Cachuma, which was burning just north of Goleta. The blaze scorched just over 12 square miles and burned 20 structures on both sides of Highway 154, according to officials with Los Padres National Forest.

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