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Brush fire rages in remote Los Padres National Forest

August 10, 2009 | 10:54 am

A fire rapidly raging through the Los Padres National Forest in Santa Barbara County has grown to more than 10,000 acres and is showing little sign of relenting, officials said this morning.

The La Brea Fire, which started Saturday afternoon, still remains at least six to seven miles away from any homes or structures, said fire information officer Maeton Freel of the U.S. Forest Service. It is centered about 20 miles east of Santa Maria and 15 miles west of New Cuyama in the San Rafael Wilderness area.

No injuries have been reported.

About 17 campgrounds in and around the wilderness area have been evacuated and closed. Fueled by dry vegetation that has not burned in decades, intense flames spread Sunday to 7,500 acres in a 12-hour period, Freel said.

Hot temperatures, high winds and low humidity are leading to extreme and erratic fire behavior, making the blaze difficult to control, he said.

At one point, the flames could be seen on the Sierra Madre ridgeline from Highway 166. No estimate of when the fire may be contained has been made as crews struggle to build fire lines in steep and inaccessible terrain.

-- Victoria Kim

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