California fires force university evacuation, close freeway
LOS ANGELES (AP) — California wildfires briefly forced the evacuation of a university and closed a freeway Wednesday as temperatures soared to record-breaking levels.
A brushfire in Santa Clarita, northwest of Los Angeles, took about an hour to stop, during which The Master’s College, a private liberal arts school, was evacuated, fire officials said.
Firefighters also dealt with a handful of other tiny blazes in Southern California.
None caused any injuries or building damage.
About 130 miles northwest of Santa Clarita, an afternoon fire broke out in rural San Luis Obispo County near the town of Shandon and quickly spread to 2,000 acres. The fire closed State Route 46 for several hours.
The blaze was 50 percent contained by evening, however. Earlier evacuations had been lifted and fire crews were being released from the scene.
No building damage or injuries were reported.
Meanwhile, Northern California’s largest wildfire of the season was 90 percent contained on Wednesday after burning more than 2,500 acres.
The Sand Fire in Yolo County destroyed seven buildings but no homes. It began on June 8.
The new fires followed several days of scorching weather. Although the National Weather Service said a cooling trend was beginning to show, record highs for the date were set Wednesday in more than a half-dozen cities.
In the past two years, California has seen some of the largest and deadliest wildfires in its recorded history.
On Wednesday, concerns about a bad wildfire season led the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to announce fire restrictions on public lands it manages in 14 Northern California counties, including some in the Sacramento area, Central Valley and Sierra Nevada.
The restrictions, which take effect on Friday, bar smoking or campfires except in developed campgrounds and other designated areas.
“The National Interagency Fire Center predicts the likelihood for large wildland fires will be above normal this summer,” a BLM statement said. “An unusually wet winter has produced an abundant grass crop, which has already cured or dried out. These heavy fuel loads have a high potential for creating extreme wildland fire behavior.