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Brush fire in San Luis Obispo County triples in size; evacuations ordered

Brush fire in San Luis Obispo County triples in size; evacuations ordered
Smoke from the Cuesta fire hovers over the mountains in San Luis Obispo County on Monday morning. (Cal Fire San Luis Obispo County)

A wind-driven fire in San Luis Obispo County pushed northeast Monday afternoon and forced residents from their homes.

The Cuesta fire, burning east of U.S. 101 and about eight miles north of San Luis Obispo, grew from 100 to 300 acres as embers jumped containment lines and sent the blaze toward Santa Margarita, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

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Authorities issued an evacuation order for the area south of the railroad tracks along California 58 and the Miller Flats community.

Firefighters also reduced containment of the fire from 10% to 5%. More than 250 firefighters are on the scene.

A vehicle sparked the blaze about 6:15 p.m. Sunday, Cal Fire said. It was one of apparently three fires caused by the same vehicle; authorities said it also started fires off the 101 Freeway and California 41. Both of those fires have since been extinguished.

No additional information about how the vehicle started the fires was immediately available.

The Cuesta fire is one of several burning in Southern California, which just endured a four-day heat wave that sent temperatures into the triple-digits in inland and valley areas.

Officials say years of drought combined with the sustained heat have made vegetation across the state extremely susceptible to fire. Even heat from a car's catalytic converter can accidentally start a fire, authorities said.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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