1,200 Homes Evacuated as Calif. Wildfire Slows

Wind could pick up later today
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 6, 2009 1:09 PM CDT
Southern California authorities say the wildfire is threatening 2,000 Santa Barbara homes.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Helicopters dropping water during the night and calmer wind this morning are helping crews hold back a wildfire that has forced the evacuation of 1,200 California homes. An early start to the state's annual wildfire siege, the fire has burned 196 acres of brush and threatened some 2,000 homes north of Santa Barbara. The fire has stabilized, but winds could pick up later today.

No buildings have been lost, but flames were within a half-mile of some structures. Helicopters and water-dropping airplanes have been tackling the wildfire, while fire engines are "sitting at homes, waiting for the fire to come down," a fire official said. Officials say the cause is unknown. Mandatory evacuations are in effect for residential areas spanning a region about 2.5 miles wide.