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Fire rages near vineyards in California

Hundreds of firefighters have been battling since last Thursday to extinguish an “out of control” blaze raging near vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley.

The full moon rises over a flame-licked hilltop east of Santa Maria. Photo credit: Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Dep

As reported by Wines & Vines, the fire spread to nearly 29,000 acres over the weekend due to high temperatures and strong winds.

The Santa Barbara fire department reported yesterday that 1,664 firefighters were battling to control the blaze that has put 133 buildings under threat.

Smoke from the fire rises skywards. Credit: San Luis Obispo Fire Dep

By yesterday morning the fire had only been 15% contained and continues to rage near Bien Nacido Vineyards, North Canyon Vineyard owned by Treasury Wine Estates, and the winemaking facility for Au Bon Climat and Qupé.

“I can see the flames from here. They’ve ordered an evacuation for the street we’re on,” Katie O’Hara, marketing director for Clendenen Lindquist Vintners, which produces Au Bon Climat and Qupé, told Wines & Vines.

Wines & Vines reports that Byron and Cambria wineries have also been evacuated, and the tasting room for Cambria was closed as a result of the fire.

“The fire is burning out of control in Santa Barbara County,” reported Dave Zaniboni of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Katy Rogers of Jackson Family Wines warned of possible smoke taint damage to grapes.

“Even if we protect our vineyards and don’t let them burn, there’s always the potential for damage from smoke,” she said.

San Luis Obispo Public Health advised residents of southern San Luis Obispo County to stay indoors, as the air quality had been affected by the fire.

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