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Sunday, July 6, 2008
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Wildfires still raging along US coast

Weary firefighters got no rest during the holiday weekend as a pair of out-of-control wildfires roared across the landscape along California's central coast at opposite ends of the arid Los Padres National Forest.

Despite lower temperatures and lighter wind, one stubborn fire that already had forced the evacuation of Big Sur inched closer to historic vacation retreats.

Farther south in the national forest, wind up to 40 mph fanned a wildfire near Goleta in Santa Barbara County. About 5,000 homes were under evacuation orders, while residents of 1,400 other homes were warned to pack up and be ready to leave on short notice, said county spokesman Jim McClure.

"The fire is expanding and presenting some very complex challenges because of the terrain and the fact that it hasn't burned in over 50 years," said Capt. Eli Iskow of the Santa Barbara County fire department. "And it's close to all the valuables like homes and people."

Authorities planned an aggressive air attack on the Goleta fire Saturday, including drops from a huge DC-10 air tanker that made a single pass over the blaze on Friday.

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