The Alisal, Southern California fire maintained a major freeway closure on Wednesday and burned 15,442 acres just 20 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, Calif., In two days.
Officials say strong winds with gusts of up to 70 miles per hour are fueling the blaze, which threatens sparse homes and ranches in the area. The Alisal fire began on Monday and its cause is under investigation, according to CalFire. His confinement was at 5% on Wednesday.
Highway 101 is closed between Highway 1 and Winchester Canyon Road / Cathedral Oaks in both directions as the fire approaches the highway, and Pacific Railroad and Amtrack services have been cut off . It is the only major road on this section of the coast.
The closure has forced drivers to take more precarious detours, and the freeway could remain closed until the weekend as crews work to contain the blaze, officials said. Reopening is a top priority for incident commanders, officials said at a briefing on Wednesday.
Officials said more than 100 homes and other structures were at risk. The last evacuation orders and evacuation warnings were issued on Tuesday.
Rancho del Cielo, a property once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan and once known as the Western White House, is also under threat. The blaze is about half a mile from the property, but this section of the blaze is not as active as the others, Young America’s vice president and chief of staff Jessica Jensen told The Associated Press. Foundation, which now operates the ranch. .
“The Ranch itself is still in a very defensible position,” she said.
The Santa Barbara area was expected to experience its famous winds at sunset Wednesday night, which occur off the Santa Ynez Mountains and typically include an increase in temperature and a decrease in humidity. Winds have fueled forest fires in the region in the past.
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The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for the south coast and the Santa Barbara Mountains through Thursday, “with gusts of up to 50 mph expected.”
Santa Barbara County Fire is asking residents not to use drones to fly over the burning area, after receiving reports that drones were interfering with firefighting equipment.
Airborne firefighting teams initiate fire from the air when the winds have calmed down, officials said.
The National Interagency Fire Center reports that 2,043,220 acres in 10 incidents in California are currently burning.
Contribution: The Associated Press