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Fire at California campsite forces evacuation of 50 nearby homes

(Reuters) - A wind-whipped fire engulfed 700 acres of forest in California's Santa Barbara County on Monday, forcing the evacuation of holiday weekend campers and nearby residents, a fire official said.

Flames broke out in the White Rock camping area of Los Padres National Forest about 2:40 p.m. local time and the blaze spread quickly toward 50 homes in nearby Paradise Canyon, said Captain David Sadecki of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

"It's being pushed by a westerly wind that's so strong we can't get our six air tankers off the ground," Sadecki said, noting the tankers were used to drop flame retardant.

Four helicopters that dump water on hot spots were able to withstand the winds and were being used to fight the fire, he said.

About 1,000 people were evacuated from the recreational area, and about 50 to 75 people from nearby homes remained displaced because of the encroaching fire, Sadecki said.

The cause of the blaze was under investigation.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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