Elisal Fire of Southern California A major highway was closed on Wednesday And in two days it has burned 15,442 acres just 20 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, California.
Officials say strong winds up to 70 mph are fueling the fires, threatening sparse homes and farms in the area. According to CalFire, the Alisal fire started on Monday and its cause is being investigated. Its content was 5% on Wednesday.
Highway 101 between Highway 1 and Winchester Canyon Road/Cathedral Oaks is closed in both directions as fires reach the highway, and Pacific Railroad and Amtrak services have been disrupted. It is the only major highway on that part of the coast.
Officials said the closure has left drivers making more uncertain detours, and the highway could remain closed for the weekend while crews work to douse the fire. Officials said at a briefing on Wednesday that reopening is a top priority for event commanders.
Officials said more than 100 homes and other structures were at risk. Fresh evacuation orders and evacuation warnings were issued on Tuesday.
Also at risk is Rancho del Cielo, a property previously owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan and once known as the Western White House. The fire is about a half-mile from the property, but that part of the fire is not as active as the others, Jessica Jensen, vice president and chief of staff of the Young America Foundation, which now operates the farm, told the Associated Press.
“The ranch, itself, is still in a very defensive position,” she said.
The Santa Barbara area was expected to see its infamous sundowner winds Wednesday evening, which blow away from the Santa Ynez Mountains and typically include a rise in temperature and a decrease in humidity. Winds in the east have set fire to the forest in this area.
The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory Thursday for the south coast and mountains of Santa Barbara, “with gusts of 50 mph.”
Santa Barbara County Fire is asking residents not to use drones to fly over a fire-ravaged area, after receiving reports that drones were interfering with firefighting equipment.
Air-operated firefighters are dousing the fire from the air, officials said.
The National Interagency Fire Center reports that 2,043,220 acres are currently burning in 10 incidents in California.
Contribution: The Associated Press