Image: Smoke from fire
Jay C. Nichols
The fire north of Santa Barbara County, Calif., is seen above a ridge inside the Los Padres National Forest.
updated 8/11/2009 4:09:58 PM ET 2009-08-11T20:09:58

Authorities have closed nearly 111 square miles of the Los Padres National Forest because of a wildfire that could pose a threat to ranches in northern Santa Barbara County.

Forest Service spokesman Maeton Freel said the mostly inaccessible backcountry was closed Tuesday.

A 4-day wildfire in the San Rafael Wilderness area of the forest has scorched more than 32 square miles of brushy canyon lands and crested a ridge a few miles from ranches.

Authorities say an evacuation order was issued for 14 ranches. Some ranchers were already voluntarily moving their horses and other livestock.

More than 1,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, which was 10 percent contained.

In Northern California, one of several lightning-caused fires was endangering a handful of homes and prompting evacuations.

Firefighters evacuated 10 homes and one business in Shasta County, more than 200 miles north of Sacramento.

The blaze was sparked by an Aug. 2 lightning storm and grew overnight from 4,300 acres to 5,000 acres — nearly eight square miles. It was almost 70 percent contained on Tuesday.

Firefighters say they also are nearing containment on other fires in Shasta, Lassen and Tuolumne counties.

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