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Alisal fire burns near Santa Barbara, California

Earlier in the week firefighters took advantage of a break in strong winds to get aircraft aloft and dump retardant on a fast-moving wildfire that was within a half mile of former President Ronald Reagan's ranch, officials said.

A crew of roughly 1,500 firefighters have so far successfully steered the Alisal fire away from the Reagan ranch, where the former U.S. leader hosted the likes of Queen Elizabeth and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, said Andrew Madsen, a spokesman for Los Padres National Forest, where the blaze is centered.

The fire broke out on Monday (October 11) about 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Santa Barbara in a sparsely populated corner of southern California.

California is on pace to suffer more burnt acreage this year than last, the worst fire season on record when 4.2 million acres went up in flames - an area the size of Hawaii.

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