California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged residents to heed mandatory evacuation orders Saturday as more than 7,000 firefighters battled to control nearly a dozen blazes across the parched state.
Schwarzenegger met with firefighters at the Lockheed Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a day after the governor returned to the state from attending the funeral of his mother-in-law, Eunice Shriver.
Meanwhile, a separate fire in Yuba County north of Sacramento grew dramatically and officials more than doubled the firefighting force to contain it.
The Lockheed Fire has blackened close to 8 square miles of remote wilderness since Wednesday and prompted mandatory evacuations of the mountain communities of Swanton and Bonny Doon, which have about 2,400 residents and several wineries.
"These fires will be different than most of the fires because of the terrain," Schwarzenegger said. "It's very hard to get equipment in there and the resources in there. That's why you see a lot of helicopters and fixed winged aircraft being used."
The fire spread slightly overnight but crews gained some ground when the winds died down, containing nearly 40 percent of the fire, said CalFire spokeswoman Julie Hutchinson.
Firefighters worried that strong offshore winds would fuel flames by drying out the trees and brush, but Hutchinson said they hadn't developed by late Saturday.
"There were very minimal winds," she said. "Offshore winds haven't really come in."
Schwarzenegger said the Lockheed Fire was one of 11 burning in the state. Other blazes have forced evacuations and knocked out power, and smoke and ash from the growing wildfire in Santa Barbara County whirled into the Los Angeles area, prompting an unusual weather forecast of "scattered smoke."
Lt. Gov. John Garamendi declared a state of emergency Friday for Santa Cruz County.
Schwarzenegger said 25 firefighters had been injured in various blazes, but the extent of their injuries wasn't immediately known.
"We pray that they heal as quickly as possible," Schwarzenegger said.
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