Southern California’s Alisal Fire kept a major highway closed Wednesday and has burned 15,442 acres just 20 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, California, in two days.

According to officials, strong winds are causing the fire at 70 miles an hour. This is dangerous for the ranches and homes in the immediate vicinity. CalFire says the Alisal Fire broke out Monday. It is still under investigation. It was contained at 5% by Wednesday. 

Highway 101 has been closed from Highway 1 to Winchester Canyon Road/Cathedral Oaks. The fire is approaching the highway. Amtrack, Pacific Railroad and Amtrack have also been affected. This is the main highway in that area of the coast.

Officials say that drivers have had to travel more risky routes due to the closure. The highway will remain closed for the duration of the firefighters’ efforts to put out the fire. Officials stated Wednesday that reopening the highway is an incident commander’s top priority.

Officials indicated that over 100 structures and homes were at high risk. On Tuesday, the latest evacuation instructions and warnings were sent.

Rancho del Cielo is also at risk. This property was once owned by Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan. It used to be known as The Western White House. The blaze is about a half mile away from the property, but that section of the fire is not as active as others, Jessica Jensen, vice president and chief of staff of the Young America’s Foundation, which now operates the ranch, told The Associated Press.

“The Ranch, itself, is still in a very defensible position,” she said.

Santa Barbara will experience the notorious sundowner wind Wednesday evening. This is a phenomenon that occurs off of Santa Ynez Mountains. It usually includes a slight increase in temperature, and subsequently lowering in humidity. In the past the winds have ignited wildfires.

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The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for Santa Barbara’s southern coast and mountains through Thursday, “with gusts up to 50 mph expected.”

Santa Barbara County Fire has asked residents to refrain from using drones for flying over areas engulfed by flames. This is after they received reports of drones interfering in firefighting equipment. 

Officials said that airborne crews of fire fighters engage the fire from the sky when the winds subside. 

The National Interagency Fire Center reports that 2,043,220 acres across 10 incidents in California are currently burning.

Contributing to The Associated Press


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