Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch in path of Lake Fire in Santa Barbara County

The Lake Fire has burned more than 16,000 acres.

ByBill Hutchinson ABCNews logo
Monday, July 8, 2024
Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch in path of Santa Barbara County fire
The Lake Fire that exploded to more than 13,000 acres in Santa Barbara County prompted evacuations and is threatening homes, including Neverland Ranch, Michael Jackson's former home.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Firefighters battling flames amid a heat wave in Southern California are struggling to gain control of a wildfire that exploded over the weekend to more than 16,000 acres, prompting evacuations and threatening homes, including Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, officials said.

The Lake Fire burning in Santa Barbara County near the Los Padres National Forest was 0% contained as of Sunday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CAL FIRE).

The Lake Fire is one of 21 wildfires burning in California on Sunday, CAL FIRE said.

Lake Fire in Santa Barbara County

The wildland blaze about 40 miles north of the city of Santa Barbara started on Friday afternoon near Zaca Lake in the Los Padres National Forest.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department issued evacuation orders on Saturday night as the blaze grew to 13,264 acres. The evacuation orders included the 5000 block of Figueroa Mountain Road, where Michael Jackson's former ranch is located, officials said.

Warnings were also issued for residents in the surrounding area to be prepared to evacuate, according to the sheriff's office.

The wildfire erupted during a heat wave that has enveloped the area and most of California.

"An EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING through next week continues to affect the fire with high temperatures, drying vegetation and little relief at night. The National Weather Service has reported that a heat wave this intense, this long, has not been experienced in this region in 20 years," CAL FIRE said in a statement.

The fire grew rapidly on Saturday amid temperatures in the high 90s and with a relative humidity of around 11%.

"When relative humidity decreases, fire behavior increases because fine fuels like grass and pine needles become drier quickly," according to the Western Fire Chiefs Association (WFCA).

The cause of the fire is under investigation.