SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Firefighters set more controlled burns Wednesday to block a wildfire that already has blackened 190 square miles and destroyed 27 homes on the central California coast.
The controlled fires were proceeding well despite high humidity that had prevented firefighters from setting "back burns" on Tuesday.
Mandatory evacuation orders were in place for about 20 homes along the heavily wooded ridges near Carmel Valley, said Ruby Urueta, spokeswoman with the Monterey County Emergency Operations Center.
Another 200 houses were emptied in nearby Cachagua because of the fire danger. The fire was 61 percent contained Wednesday, emergency officials said.
President Bush is scheduled to visit California today to survey fire damage with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and meet with first responders.
State officials say the nearly 2,100 separate blazes that have burned nearly 1,400 square miles since a lightning storm struck June 21 is the largest single fire event in California history. The previous largest was in October 2003 and resulted in 24 deaths.
Those blazes spread through a more populated area in Southern California, but fire officials say the smaller number of deaths and injuries is due in part to the increased focus on safety.
The only firefighter death so far has been attributed to a heart attack, said Daniel Berlant, a state fire department spokesman.
Among residents, accidents have also been few. A body found Friday in a burned-out house in Butte County was identified Wednesday as a 61-year-old man who didn't heed evacuation requests.
"It's important that people listen," Berlant said. "When we put an evacuation notice out, there's a reason. People want to defend their property, but they're not trained, they don't have safety gear."
Three men and a teenager trapped by flames were rescued Wednesday from a closed fire zone near the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Two were arrested for defying orders and were turned over to immigration authorities, authorities said. The third man was being treated at a hospital for third-degree burns; the teenager was treated for lesser burns and released.
In eastern Washington, fire crews gained ground on several blazes Wednesday despite gusty winds and warm temperatures.
Authorities lifted an evacuation advisory Wednesday morning for about 2,300 homes east of Spokane, where a fire has scorched 1,006 acres and destroyed 11 homes. The fire was 90 percent contained, and crews hoped to fully contain it Thursday.