In Goleta, Calif., firefighters battle early Saturday a fast-moving wildfire driven by strong winds and high temperatures. The blaze forced thousands to leave their homes the area north of Los Angeles. (Gene Blevins/Reuters)
Heat and high winds stoke wildfires

Firefighters toiled in stifling heat Saturday on the lines of destructive wildfires across the U.S. West, making progress against some blazes while struggling to tame others that have forced evacuations of hundreds of homes.

In Southern California, powerful winds that sent an overnight inferno hopscotching through the Santa Barbara County community of Goleta vanished in the morning, allowing firefighters to extinguish ruins of an estimated 20 structures, including homes.

Elsewhere, firefighters increased containment of a central San Diego County fire that rapidly spread over 400 acres, destroyed 18 structures and damaged eight. They also fought in the San Bernardino National Forest a wildfire, which was holding at 1.5 square miles and had forced the evacuation of about 700 homes.

The Southern California fires erupted Friday as strong high pressure over the West spawned an epic heat wave that saw parts of Los Angeles broil in temperatures up to 117 degrees.

In Utah, authorities allowed the return of some residents who fled a fire near a fishing lake 80 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

In Colorado, firefighters Saturday contained about 45 percent of a 167-square-mile fire that has destroyed more than 130 homes.

— Associated Press

Protesters target attorney general

Dozens of protesters called for Indiana Attorney General Curtis T. Hill Jr. to resign Saturday over allegations he inappropriately touched a state lawmaker and several other women.

The Indianapolis Star reported that about 60 people gathered outside the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. Several lawmakers attended. Protesters carried placards with crossed-out red “equal” signs.

Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) and Statehouse GOP leaders called on Hill (R) to resign Thursday.

An internal legislative memo leaked to media outlets says a lawmaker and three legislative staff members allege that Hill drunkenly groped them in March during a party. State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D) said she was among the victims.

Hill has called the allegations “vicious and false” and has rebuffed calls to resign.

— Associated Press

Hikers rescued in N.H.: Two sets of hikers had to be rescued from the White Mountains because they were unprepared for the terrain and cold, windy conditions, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said. A Florida man, 77, and a New York woman, 71, were found at 11:20 Friday night off the Tuckerman Ravine trail after seeking help. Both had hypothermia, and the woman was taken to the hospital, officials said. Also, two 35-year-old women from Minneapolis had been stranded on the Huntington Ravine Trail. Fish and Game officers gave them warm clothing and helped them reach safety.

Two fatalities in N.J. blast: A house exploded in New Jersey early Saturday, killing a husband and wife and reducing the two-story home to piles of scattered rubble, authorities said. The blast, initially reported as a gas explosion, shattered windows in nearby homes, KYW-TV reported. John, 73, and Carole Paladino, 72, were the only occupants of the Newfield home when the blast occurred at 6:15 a.m., the Gloucester County prosecutor's office said. Autopsies were slated for Sunday. Prosecutors said the cause of the explosion is under investigation by their office and the county fire marshal, but no foul play is suspected.

Child dies in apartment fire: Officials say a child is dead and at least three other people are critically injured after an apartment fire in Kansas City, Kan. Fire Battalion Chief Morris Letcher says two children and two adults were taken to hospitals in critical condition following the blaze late Saturday morning, and that one child later died. Letcher says officials are not yet releasing the names or ages of the victims. Witnesses tell the Kansas City Star the fire began with an explosion that shook nearby buildings. Fire officials say the cause of the blaze was not immediately known.

— From news reports