Heat wave coming to scorched California

July 6, 2008 at 8:01 AM

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., July 6 (UPI) -- California firefighters braced for record or near-record heat as they battle hundreds of stubborn wildfires, weather forecasters said Sunday.

With more than 20,000 firefighters battling 300 fires, Sunday was considered a critical day for efforts against the two biggest fires, one near Santa Barbara and another near Big Sur, the Los Angeles Times reported. But firefighters won't be getting any help from the weather, with temperatures as high as 105 degrees were expected Monday.

Near Santa Barbara, crews were coping overnight wind gusts that reached as high as 50 mph, the Times said.

"(Sunday) is going to be a critical day for us," Incident Cmdr. James Smith told fire crews. "We want to be vigilant, we want to stay persistent and put a good amount of effort in the (east) today… so we can seal it up … so we can focus on the (west) tomorrow."

Further north at Big Sur, the Gap fire was only 5 percent contained after burning nearly 69,000 acres and shutting down the area's popular tourist destinations, the newspaper said.

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