August 7, 1997 in Nation/World

Wildfires Rage As Crews Battle Terrain, Heat

Associated Press

Firefighters Wednesday battled six Southern California wildfires raging across more than 17,000 acres as the region baked in triple-digit temperatures.

Aircraft moved quickly to bombard flames, extinguishing four smaller fires, but two huge Los Padres National Forest blazes raged untamed in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Conditions were miserable for firefighters: 105-degree temperatures, steep terrain, bone-dry undergrowth, wasps and poison oak.

No homes were damaged in any of the fires.

But a 4,700-acre wildfire in the southeastern part of the forest was within 2-1/2 miles of the 500-resident citrus-growing community of Piru, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Residents were told to get ready to evacuate.

Eight aircraft made water-dumping runs over hot spots in support of 733 firefighters on the ground.

The largest Southern California blaze was a 12,000-acre fire near Santa Maria. More than 1,200 firefighters battled the blaze.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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