Southern California fire shuts highway, forces evacuations

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, firefighters extinguish flames Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2021, that have spotted ahead of the fire front along Highway 101 southbound at Vista Point, north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, Calif. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)
Caption
In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, firefighters extinguish flames Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2021, that have spotted ahead of the fire front along Highway 101 southbound at Vista Point, north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, Calif. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

Credit: Mike Eliason

Credit: Mike Eliason

Evacuation orders have been expanded for a growing wildfire driven by intense winds that has shut down a key Southern California highway for more than a day

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 21 square miles (54 square kilometers) along coastal Santa Barbara County and was only 5% contained, county fire officials said.

The fire erupted Monday on a ridge and blasted toward the ocean, forcing the 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 (113 kph) in some areas, officials said.

In Northern California, fire crews increased the 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 Monday also toppled trees and whipped up blinding dust clouds. Red flag warnings for critical fire danger and wind expired Tuesday for much of the interior of Northern California, but a lesser wind advisory continued Tuesday night in Santa Barbara County.

In anticipation of the wind event, the Pacific Gas & Electric utility shut off power Monday to about 24,000 customers in targeted areas of 23 counties to prevent fires from being started if gusts damaged electrical equipment.

Virtually all customers had their electricity restored Tuesday. But PG&E said it may need to cut power to about 29,000 customers across 19 counties on Thursday because of potential wildfire threat.

PG&E equipment was blamed for a 2018 fire that wiped out most of the town of Paradise in Butte County. The company filed for bankruptcy and pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter. PG&E also faces criminal charges for fires caused by its fraying equipment, including involuntary manslaughter counts in connection to a blaze near the city of Redding last year that killed four.

Windy weather is a nightmare for firefighters in a state where heat waves and historic drought tied to climate change have left forests and brush tinder-dry. Fires that began in late summer are still burning after destroying hundreds of homes.

In the Sierra Nevada, the KNP Complex fire that may have burned hundreds of giant sequoias was only 40% contained.

In this photo provided by Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the Alisal Fire continues to burn the dry vegetation in Refugio Canyon on Tuesday morning, Oct. 12, 2021,  in Santa Barbara County, Calif.  (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire via AP)
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In this photo provided by Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the Alisal Fire continues to burn the dry vegetation in Refugio Canyon on Tuesday morning, Oct. 12, 2021, in Santa Barbara County, Calif. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire via AP)

Credit: Mike Eliason

Credit: Mike Eliason

This early Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, photo provided by CalFire shows one of several vehicles damaged during a wind event in El Granada village in the coastal area of northern San Mateo County, Calif. (CalFire via AP)
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This early Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, photo provided by CalFire shows one of several vehicles damaged during a wind event in El Granada village in the coastal area of northern San Mateo County, Calif. (CalFire via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

This early Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, photo provided by CalFire shows one of several vehicles damaged during a wind event in El Granada village in the coastal area of northern San Mateo County, Calif. (CalFire via AP)
Caption
This early Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, photo provided by CalFire shows one of several vehicles damaged during a wind event in El Granada village in the coastal area of northern San Mateo County, Calif. (CalFire via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

This early Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, photo provided by CalFire shows one of several vehicles damaged during a wind event in El Granada village in the coastal area of northern San Mateo County, Calif. (CalFire via AP)
Caption
This early Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, photo provided by CalFire shows one of several vehicles damaged during a wind event in El Granada village in the coastal area of northern San Mateo County, Calif. (CalFire via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

This early Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, photo provided by CalFire shows one of several vehicles damaged during a wind event in El Granada village in the coastal area of northern San Mateo County, Calif. (CalFire via AP)
Caption
This early Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, photo provided by CalFire shows one of several vehicles damaged during a wind event in El Granada village in the coastal area of northern San Mateo County, Calif. (CalFire via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a wildfire burns Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, near a ranch off Highway 101 in Santa Barbara County, Calif. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire via AP)
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In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a wildfire burns Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, near a ranch off Highway 101 in Santa Barbara County, Calif. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire via AP)

Credit: Mike Eliason

Credit: Mike Eliason

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

Credit: Noah Berger

Credit: Noah Berger

Rick Hale, an eight-year resident of the Rancho Mariona Mobile Home & RV Park, walks away on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, from the spot his Brannan Island home in Isleton, Calif., once stood. "Everything happened so fast," he said. "I was barely able to get my dog out – and a few things into my truck – and peel away while all the houses around me were burning." Officials say powerful California wildfires driven by intense winds have caused damage at two mobile home parks and destroyed some trailers and that one man suffered severe burns. (Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee via AP)
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Rick Hale, an eight-year resident of the Rancho Mariona Mobile Home & RV Park, walks away on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, from the spot his Brannan Island home in Isleton, Calif., once stood. "Everything happened so fast," he said. "I was barely able to get my dog out – and a few things into my truck – and peel away while all the houses around me were burning." Officials say powerful California wildfires driven by intense winds have caused damage at two mobile home parks and destroyed some trailers and that one man suffered severe burns. (Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee via AP)

Credit: Hector Amezcua

Credit: Hector Amezcua

Kim Corgiat sifts through the remains of her boyfriend's 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)
Caption
Kim Corgiat sifts through the remains of her boyfriend's 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)

Credit: Noah Berger

Credit: Noah Berger

Vehicles and residences scorched by the Brannan Fire line the Rancho Marina Mobile Home & RV Park 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)
Caption
Vehicles and residences scorched by the Brannan Fire line the Rancho Marina Mobile Home & RV Park 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)

Credit: Noah Berger

Credit: Noah Berger

Scorched land lines a plot on Brannan Island 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 Monday afternoon. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Caption
Scorched land lines a plot on Brannan Island 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 Monday afternoon. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Credit: Noah Berger

Credit: Noah Berger

Kyrstina Phillips, who's home burned in the Brannan Fire, hugs a friend outside the Rancho Marina Mobile Home & RV Park 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)
Caption
Kyrstina Phillips, who's home burned in the Brannan Fire, hugs a friend outside the Rancho Marina Mobile Home & RV Park 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)

Credit: Noah Berger

Credit: Noah Berger

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)
Caption
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)

Credit: Noah Berger

Credit: Noah Berger

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a deer scurries near a recently burned area off Refugio Rd., in Goleta, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)
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In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a deer scurries near a recently burned area off Refugio Rd., in Goleta, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

Credit: Mike Eliason

Credit: Mike Eliason

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a hand crew works on a hill to extinguish a fire Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, in Goleta, Calif. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)
Caption
In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a hand crew works on a hill to extinguish a fire Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, in Goleta, Calif. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

Credit: Mike Eliason

Credit: Mike Eliason