California, New Mexico wildfires trigger hundreds of evacuations

A massive wildfire in a coastal area of Southern California and a blaze in rural New Mexico forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes and move to safer locations on Thursday, authorities confirmed.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told reporters that his deputies asked occupants of nearly four hundred homes and businesses to immediately evacuate their buildings as the area was threatened by aggressive flames.

The fire that started on Wednesday in a wild area northwest of Santa Barbara had consumed vegetation in the Los Padres National Forest, leaving nearly 1,200 acres totally charred. As many as 500 firefighters and airplane tankers and helicopters were deployed to control the fire.

But, winds drove the Sherpa Fire toward the Pacific coast, forcing authorities to issue evacuation orders for two state beaches and some ranches. The sheriff confirmed that campers and horses on ranches in the nearby areas were also told to move to safer locations.

In New Mexico, the Dog Head Fire that broke around 6 miles northwest of Tajique on Wednesday grew to more than 12,000 acres as of Thursday, forcing hundreds of people to move to safer locations and Gov. Susana Martinez to declare a state of emergency.

Southern California has been in an unrelenting grip of drought for the past many years. The region’s dry conditions and hot weather are feeding flames, raising health concerns. Experts have warned that more wildfires could break out in the coming hot summer months.