Lake Fire grows to 20,300 acres in Santa Barbara County; Neverland Ranch threatened

Over a thousand firefighters on Monday were continuing to battle a wildfire that is threatening Neverland Ranch, the former home of late pop star Michael Jackson, and others in the Santa Barbara Mountains.

The Lake fire is 20,300 acres and burning in the Los Padres National Forest and feeding on grass, brush and timber in rugged terrain, according to the U.S. National Forest Service. The fire was first reported Friday afternoon and as of Monday morning was 8% contained.

Firefighters on the ground are having a difficult time reaching the blaze due to the heat and terrain and helicopters have been deployed to contain its spread. Temperatures on Monday are expected to reach the 90s to the low 100s, said Jackie Ruiz, spokesperson for Santa Barbara County’s Office of Emergency Management.

Santa Barbara County expanded its evacuation orders on Sunday to include Figueroa Mountain Road, also known as the Grass Mountain Trail Head, and neighborhoods within Sawmill Basin, including Tunnel Road and the Figueroa Campground, according to emergency officials.

About 20 people who are under the evacuation order zone have left their homes, Ruiz said. The evacuation zone also extends to Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, according to the latest data. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

The Lake Fire is burning on the western side of the Los Padres National Forest, just a few weeks after the Post Fire burned over 15,600 acres about 120 miles east near the town of Gorman.

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