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Evacuation orders, power cuts and wind advisories issued as Alisal fire rages in California


Evacuation orders due to the Alisal fire remain in effect as the 14,500-acre blaze continues to burn in Santa Barbara County. And officials fear strong winds, which triggered a wind advisory for the region on Wednesday, could stoke the blaze’s flames.

“This fire reminds us that at the end of summer our fire season is accelerating,” Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann said at a community briefing.

Evacuation orders, power cuts and wind advisories issued as Alisal fire rages in California
This Tuesday, October 12, 2021, photo provided by Santa Barbara County Fire, members of the Santa Barbara County Fire Team are fighting the fire with fire and burning pockets of grass along Highway 101 northbound to the north of the Arroyo Hondo Canyon in Santa Barbara County, California.

Mike Eliason / AP

More than 1,300 people are responding to the wildfire, which started on Monday and was 5% contained by Wednesday morning, local firefighters said. tweeted. The fire closed part of the 101 Freeway – a main road in Santa Barbara – and officials said Wednesday that reopening the freeway was a priority for incident commanders, as well as protecting the facility’s facilities. oil production along the coast.

Air pollution in the region was deemed unhealthy for sensitive groups by air quality technology company IQAir on Wednesday evening. The area also had a PM2.5 pollutant concentration nearly four times higher than what the World Health Organization recommends for air quality.

The company has recommended that sensitive groups in affected areas wear a face mask outdoors, use an air purifier, close windows, and reduce outdoor exercise.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory Wednesday through Thursday for the south coast and mountains of Santa Barbara County. Winds with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour are expected, which can cause power outages and unsafe objects to blow.

Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said Wednesday that Alisal was a “wind-driven” fire, noting that the weather had helped to quickly spread its flames. Completely containing the wildfire could take weeks, he said.

To prevent further forest fires from breaking out, the energy supplier Pacific gas and electricity on Wednesday issued power cuts to public safety in 12 California counties, affecting about 16,000 customers.

“Due to this wind event, combined with extreme to exceptional drought conditions and extremely dry vegetation, PG&E began sending one-day advance notifications on Wednesday morning to customers in areas where PG&E may need to cut. power proactively for safety reasons to reduce the risk of forest fires from energized power lines, ”the company warned on Tuesday.

California is currently tackling 10 active fires, including Alisal, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. This year’s wildfire season produced the second largest fire in state history: the Dixie fire, which burned 963,309 acres.