Hot, dry winds have fanned a wildfire in Santa Barbara County that has now grown to over nine square miles and forced evacuations in the most urgent of several blazes burning throughout the baking state.
Dubbed the Alamo Fire, the blaze that broke out near Santa Maria led to the evacuations of about 300 people from homes on rural roads, county fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said. The blaze was 10 percent contained.
Meanwhile, Southern California is under an excessive heat warning with triple-digit temps expected in valleys and inland areas.
The heat broke a 131-year-old record in Los Angeles, as the National Weather Service reported the temperature hit 96 degrees on Saturday. That temperature beat a record of 95 degrees for the date set in 1886. Other records for the day fell at the weather service office in Oxnard and nearby Camarillo, both in Ventura County.
The source of the heat is a strong upper-level high pressure system over the southwestern U.S. along with breezy northerly winds at the surface.
Those winds triggered a red flag fire danger warning for the south Santa Barbara County mountains and coast, where the gusts are known as "sundowners." Gusts up to 50 mph (80 kph) could last through Saturday morning and possibly into Sunday, forecasters said.
Another blaze burning near Oroville in the Sierra Nevada foothills north of Sacramento has destroyed 10 structures. Fire officials say the so-called Wall Fire grew to more than 1.5 square miles Saturday and was only 2 percent contained.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported that five residents and one firefighter suffered minor injuries. Residents were ordered to evacuate from several roads in the rural area as flames climbed tall trees.
Firefighters also continued their fight against a wildfire burning in the southern Sierra Nevada's Sequoia National Forest as it grew to more than 18 square miles Saturday.
The firefighting force surpassed 760 with the arrival of additional hotshot crews to work in the rugged wilderness between Schaeffer Mountain and the Kern River nearly 20 miles north of Kernville.
Helicopters and air tankers were making drops, but containment remained low at just 10 percent.