Memorial Day wildfire forces evacuations in Santa Barbara County

Deepa Fernandes/KPCC

Fire fighters from Glendale's 23rd company clean their truck. A surging wildfire has forced dozens of residents and Memorial Day campers to evacuate the mountains of Santa Barbara County in California.

A wildfire has burned about 700 acres north of Santa Barbara.  The fire is burning in the Los Padres National Forest – and it forced the closure of Paradise Road and the many campgrounds along it.

The U.S. Forest Service says the fire broke out about 2:45 Monday in Los Padres National Forest about 15 miles north of Santa Barbara and quickly surged to 500 acres amid winds of about 20 mph.

“We had about a thousand folks that were out here camping and otherwise picnicking for the day that had to be evacuated, along with a number of residences," said Andrew Madsen, a spokesman for the Los Padres National Forest. "We have initiated a full response.”

Madsen says it appears the threat to the campgrounds has abated.  He says the fire is now burning into the backcountry. 

But Madsen says getting a handle on the fire will depend on what happens with the winds tonight.   The winds had died down a bit earlier in the evening, but he’s concerned about strong winds overnight. 

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