GOLETA, Calif. – A wildfire in the Los Padres National Forest has forced authorities to evacuate residents living in the canyon areas north of Goleta in Santa Barbara County.
U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Kathy Good says the fire has burned roughly 50 acres of heavy brush in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains. She says winds are pushing the fire down a slope toward homes in the Glen Annie and La Patera canyons.
Authorities issued a mandatory evacuation for residents in those areas.
Goleta is located about 8 miles northwest of Santa Barbara.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered 200 National Guard troops to report for fire training to relieve weary firefighters battling blazes that have scorched more than 660 square miles statewide.
That marks the first time the guard has been asked to send soldiers to join ground-based fire fights since 1977, a guard spokesman said.
Hundreds of firefighters were working overtime Tuesday to beat back blazes burning from the western edge of the Sierra Nevada to coastal mountains near Big Sur, where authorities enforced new, mandatory evacuations along a roughly 15-mile stretch of Highway 1.
Officials had hoped a fog bank along the Northern California coast would help with fire suppression, but the moisture did not extend inland, said Brian Tentinger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey.
Even as crews made headway against some of the worst blazes, air district officials grew concerned that wind patterns would send more smoke billowing into the valley, which is bordered on three sides by mountains.
The fires also have carried tiny particles of soot — blamed for triggering asthma and other respiratory problems — inland in the state's farm country, where some doctors have reported waiting rooms crowded with patients struggling to breathe.
"Our waiting rooms are full of people with sore throats, itchy eyes and sniffles," said Kevin Hamilton, a respiratory therapist with Sequoia Community Health Center in Fresno. "It's certainly driving the clinic's appointments up."
In the San Francisco Bay Area, however, officials said air quality had finally returned to healthy levels after several days of health warnings.
In the Big Sur region of the Los Padres National Forest, about 200 people were ordered to evacuate Tuesday, and evacuation orders remained in place for occupants of at least 75 homes who were forced to leave the region last week.
Endangered condors also sought to avoid the thick smoke by hunkering in cliffs along the Pacific Ocean. A 2-month-old baby condor died when fire swept through the gorge where it was nesting in a 1,000-year-old redwood, scientists said.
In the Sequoia National Forest east of Bakersfield, crews from as far away as Kansas struggled to contain the 8,200-acre Piute Fire. Powerful gusts and choking smoke traveling up the steep canyons hampered their progress, and residents of neighboring towns were ordered to evacuate.