1200-acre brush fire closes a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway near Ventura – Los Angeles Times
A wind-whipped brush fire north of Ventura has scorched 1,200 acres along the coast, continues to threaten dozens of homes and has closed miles of Pacific Coast Highway, authorities said.
The fire began about 11 p.m. Friday and quickly spread, with flames pushed by north winds that reached 50 mph, according to Chief Mark Lorenzen of the Ventura County Fire Department. The fire prompted mandatory evacuations in the Solimar Beach neighborhoods.
Holiday campers were also forced to evacuate nearby campgrounds.
A Red Cross shelter has been opened at the Carpinteria Veteran’s Memorial Building, located at 941 Walnut Avenue in Carpinteria, authorities said.
As of Saturday morning, the fire was less than 10% contained. Fire officials expect it will take three days to extinguish the blaze.
So far no structures have been burned and no injuries have been reported, authorities said.
Pacific Coast Highway remains closed in both directions between Highway 33 and Bates Road. Drivers were encouraged to use Highway 150 as an alternate, though big rig drivers should avoid the area, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The fire burned three railroad ties on tracks running along the coast. Around 10 a.m., Union Pacific was able to resume service on the tracks.
Hundreds of area firefighters were battling the blaze and were aided by at least two water-dropping helicopters.
“It’s still a dynamic situation and it could change,” said Cmdr. Norm Plott of the Ventura County Fire Department. “It’s still not a contained fire so I just want to caution that any openings that do happen are subject to being closed again if the fire changes direction.”
Firefighters biggest concern remains the wind, which was blowing at 25- to 35-mph in the area early Saturday.
A wind advisory will be in effect for parts of Ventura and Los Angeles counties through noon on Sunday, said Stuart Ceto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service.
Under the wind advisory, gusts could reach 40 mph, Ceto said. There will be strong north winds tonight, before the winds shift and turn to the northeast on Sunday morning. By the afternoon, winds could be down to 15 mph.
“This is more like a Santa Ana,” Ceto said. “We’ve got high pressure coming in behind it that’s going into the great basin area. It’s a cold Santa Ana, not our normal warm Santa Ana. It’s going to keep temperatures down.”
Firefighters responded to multiple calls of a brush fire about 10 miles north of Ventura shortly after 11 p.m. Friday along Highway 101, which was closed from West Main Street in Ventura to Route 150 in Santa Barbara, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Shortly after 1 a.m. the fire had reached the tunnels at State Beaches, off the 101 just north of Ventura. The blaze had also stopped rail traffic through the region. Access to the 101 from Routes 33 and 150 remain closed Saturday.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Concerned residents can check fire updates at www.vcemergency.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.