UPDATE: Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara

75 homes have been destroyed or damaged | 30,000 people have been Evacuated
Santa Barbara, Calif. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jesusita Fire Information - Click here

Valley strike teams and inmate crews are in the hills of Santa Barbara to help contain the wildfire that has grown to at least 2,700 acres. A strike team from Merced County arrived late last night and went straight to work.

Governor Schwarzenegger visited a base camp yesterday and said the National Guard will be on standby and pledged financial support despite the state's economic crisis.

The bright orange flames that lit up the Santa Barbara County hills Thursday night also forced authorities to expand both the mandatory evacuation area and the area on standby for evacuation.

"We want to have everybody be aware, if you're in the mandatory get out. Be ready if you're in the warning area," said Drew Sugars with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

More than 30,000 people have now received one of those two notices. But firefighters say calmer winds in the early evening hours did help them make their first significant gains against the fast moving fire. Calfire Batallion Chief Mike Carr said, "We have about 10 percent containment on the fire, that's containment that we can claim and say that we absolutely are not going to lose, so that's progress."

Some 2,300 firefighters are now in Santa Barbara, including dozens from Central California. A strike team from Fresno and Tulare counties was called to the fire lines after sunset, following a full day of preparation at a nearby staging area. "We just stress hydration because of the heat, and we go over different wild land scenarios and the main thing is safety, safety, safety," said Adan Orozco with Fresno County Calfire.

The fire has already injured 10 firefighters and destroyed dozens of homes. This couple watched as houses around them burned to the ground Wednesday night, but they chose to stay and help protect their own property. Homeowner Barbara Lindermann said, "It was of course very traumatic. I was watching from the kitchen with my smoke mask on as the firefighters and my brother in law who's also a firefighter and his son and my son brought out the powerful hoses."

"There was a moment when I was getting frightened, but I didn't panic because I began to see these firemen putting out the fires. It was just amazing," said homeowner Al Lincerman.

Firefighters are hoping to have more success stories as they continue to attack the flames.

Strong winds are pushing the Santa Barbara wildfire toward more homes that fire crews are now calling the "Jesusita" fire.

Fire officials say the wildfire is acting like a blowtorch. Thousands have escaped to safety.

Officials say mandatory evacuation orders have been expanded. A total of 30,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

75 homes have been destroyed or damaged.

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