From: Lucy Nicholson, Reuters
Published May 9, 2009 08:05 AM

Fierce California wildfire burns into fourth night

A California wildfire burned for a fourth day on Friday above the seaside town of Santa Barbara as firefighters battled flames that have damaged or destroyed 80 homes.

Another 3,500 homes and about 100 businesses remained in immediate jeopardy from the so-called Jesusita fire, which had blackened more than 8,600 acres in the foothills above the picturesque community, according to an update by the Santa Barbara Fire Department late on Friday. It destroyed 80 homes and forced thousands of people to flee.


No civilian casualties have been reported so far but the blaze has injured 11 firefighters, three of them hospitalized with burns and smoke inhalation.

Crews battling days of hot, dry erratic winds have made little progress in controlling the firestorm.

The most dangerous time of day has proven to be nightfall, when the hot, unpredictable "sundowner" winds pick up and fan the flames through steep canyons into neighborhoods of multimillion-dollar homes.

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