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California wildfire evacuations expanded

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James Grooms looks through the remains of his home at the Rancho Marina Mobile Home & RV Park following the Brannan Fire in Sacramento County, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. Fueled by dry, strong winds, the blaze leveled dozens of residences on Brannan Island Monday afternoon.
James Grooms looks through the remains of his home at the Rancho Marina Mobile Home & RV Park following the Brannan Fire in Sacramento County, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. Fueled by dry, strong winds, the blaze leveled dozens of residences on Brannan Island Monday afternoon. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) (mike eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire) Photo Gallery

SOLVANG, Calif. (AP) — Evacuation orders were expanded Tuesday for a growing wildfire driven by intense winds that has shut down a key Southern California highway for more than a day.

At least 200 firefighters battled the Alisal Fire, which had scorched 12.5 square miles along coastal Santa Barbara County and remained uncontained.

The fire erupted Monday on a ridge and blasted toward the ocean, forcing closure of U.S. 101, the only major highway on that section of the coast. Evacuation orders and warnings were in place for several areas of the lightly populated region.

“The fire is burning in dense chaparral and is being pushed by strong winds and growing at a rapid rate of speed,” a fire update said Tuesday. Gusts reached 70 mph in some areas, officials said.

In Northern California, fire crews increased containment of a blaze that destroyed 25 mobile homes, 16 RVs and a park building at the Rancho Marina RV Park in Sacramento County. At least 20 structures were still threatened, according to the River Delta Fire District.

No injuries were reported, and the cause remained under investigation.

To the south in San Joaquin County, a man suffered burns and about five mobile homes were damaged by flames that raced through the Islander Mobile Home Park, Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Josh Capper told Fox40-TV.

The injured man suffered severe third-degree burns over most of his body, Capper said.

Powerful gusts that swept through the state on Monday also toppled trees and whipped up blinding dust clouds. Red flag warnings for critical fire danger remained in effect Tuesday for much of the interior of Northern California, with lesser wind advisories continuing in Santa Barbara County.

In anticipation of the wind event, Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power Monday to about 24,000 customers to prevent fires from being started if gusts damaged electrical equipment.

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