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​Wildfires send children fleeing from California summer camps

File: The Whittier fire burned at least 4.7 square miles (12 sq. kilometers), including a portion of the Cachuma Lake campground, and was not contained.
File: The Whittier fire burned at least 4.7 square miles (12 sq. kilometers), including a portion of the Cachuma Lake campground, and was not contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A pair of Santa Barbara County wildfires quickly spread Saturday, threatening hundreds of homes and forcing evacuations at a popular lakeside campground and a summer camp where flames temporarily trapped children and counselors, a fire official said.

The Whittier fire started in the early afternoon and spread to both sides of Highway 154. It was "completely out of control," county fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

It grew to 7,800 acres and was 5 percent contained Sunday morning.

About 90 children and 50 counselors were struck at the Circle V Ranch and had to take shelter there until they could be safely evacuated.

In the middle of the afternoon Saturday, Santa Barbara officials sent out alerts to residents and campers near Cachuma Lake to evacuate as the fire started near Whittier Camp, Zaniboni said.

The lake, which was nearly bone dry last summer after the severe drought, is popular for camping, boating and fishing. Residents were also ordered to leave cabins in the Los Padres National Forest.

The fire burned at least 4.7 square miles (12 sq. kilometers), including a portion of the Cachuma Lake campground, and was not contained.

The fire was one of three in the state that grew quickly as much of California baked in heat that broke records in parts of Southern California.