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Authorities looking for witnesses in wildfire near Santa Maria

August 12, 2009 |  9:24 pm

Fire investigators are looking for witnesses who may have seen a van Saturday afternoon after the start of large wildfire that continues to burn out of control in the Los Padres National Forest.

The Chevy van is described as tan or gold and is a 2004 or 2005 model. It was last seen on Sierra Madre Road in the national forest area near Santa Maria, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The so-called La Brea fire has burned 29,480 acres and was 10% contained Wednesday evening, authorities said. More than 1,000 firefighters and 19 water-dropping helicopters are trying to contain the blaze in rugged, remote terrain.

Anyone with information regarding the van is asked to call investigators at (805) 686-5074. Callers can remain anonymous.

-- Robert J. Lopez