LOS ANGELES  - Exhausted firefighters raced Monday to contain hundreds of wildfires raging across California as forecasters warned that a looming heatwave was set to deliver drier, hotter conditions. More than 330 wildfires blazed across the state, as firefighters focused their efforts near the tourist haven of Big Sur and the town of Goleta, near Santa Barbara, 165 kilometers north of Los Angeles. The blazes have burned around 559,000 acres across California since igniting on June 20, when lightning from dry thunderstorms triggered a series of forest infernos. Firefighters reported some progress in their fight against the two largest wildfires along the state's central and southern coastline, with the southern blaze 28 per cent contained and the Big Sur fire five percent contained. Light winds overnight boosted firefighters' efforts, but forecasts of higher temperatures on Monday combined with lower humidity were set to deliver a fresh setback to the fight to contain the flames. Temperatures in southern California, likely to hit the low to 27-29 degrees Celsius on Sunday, were set to rise to 32-37 Celsius through the early part of the week, forecasts said. Fire chiefs overseeing efforts to quell the blaze near Santa Barbara, which has claimed nearly 10,000 acres, said the fire was far from under control. "This is still a gorilla," the fire's incident commander Wally Bennett was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times. "We have a lot of work to do on it, and a lot of bad country to work on it in. It's just one step at a time, and we're going to get this thing." A spokeswoman at the fire's command center said cooler temperatures and lighter winds had allowed firefighters to make progress on Sunday, with downgrading of mandatory evacuation orders in some areas. "But we're at the mercy of the weather to some extent," she told AFP. "The situation could change very quickly if the weather conditions change." Forecasters said a heat wave expected to strike the Central Coast on Tuesday could bring temperatures into the 90s and 100s Fahrenheit (30a and 40s Celsius) and a possible monsoonal flow could bring lightning as well as more erratic winds, The Times reported, citing Rich Thompson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Governor Arnold Schwarznegger, who has been criss-crossing the state to visit various fire sites, said Saturday that 400 members of the National Guard had been deployed to help relieve exhausted fire crews. "Many of the firefighters have been working 24, 36, 48 hours without any sleep at any given time, so it's really very, very tough work," he said, noting that one firefighter had died and two were injured. Schwarzenegger said the crisis showed that California was confronting an unprecedented crisis, and would need more resources for emergency services. "Until recently we had a fire season which meant that late summer throughout the fall we had the fire season. Now there is no more fire season. There are fires all year around," he said. "We will need more resources." California is frequently hit by scorching wildfires due to its dry climate, Santa Ana winds and recent housing booms which have seen housing spread rapidly into rural and densely forested areas. In October, devastating wildfires were among the worst in California history, leaving eight people dead, destroying 2,000 homes, displacing 640,000 people and causing one billion dollars in damage. A total of 1,781 fires have broken out since June 20, with 331 remaining active according to state fire officials. The state department of forestry and fire protection, CALFIRE, said 9,427 residences remained threatened, while 36 homes and 51 other structures had been destroyed.