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Update: Highway 101 is reopened as Ventura County wildfire slows

Parked on the closed U.S. Highway 101, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department fire engine and crew douse a hot spot while working the Solimar Beach wildfire in Ventura County on Dec. 26, 2015. The fire, which began on Christmas night, has charred more than 1,250 acres.
Parked on the closed U.S. Highway 101, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department fire engine and crew douse a hot spot while working the Solimar Beach wildfire in Ventura County on Dec. 26, 2015. The fire, which began on Christmas night, has charred more than 1,250 acres.
Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Dept.
Parked on the closed U.S. Highway 101, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department fire engine and crew douse a hot spot while working the Solimar Beach wildfire in Ventura County on Dec. 26, 2015. The fire, which began on Christmas night, has charred more than 1,250 acres.
Location of the Solimar Beach fire, which led to the shutdown of Highway 101 on Dec. 26, 2015.
Google Maps
Parked on the closed U.S. Highway 101, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department fire engine and crew douse a hot spot while working the Solimar Beach wildfire in Ventura County on Dec. 26, 2015. The fire, which began on Christmas night, has charred more than 1,250 acres.
A view of the Solimar Beach fire from Pacific Coast Highway in Ventura County.
Bernie Deyo EPN, LACOFD VPP
Parked on the closed U.S. Highway 101, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department fire engine and crew douse a hot spot while working the Solimar Beach wildfire in Ventura County on Dec. 26, 2015. The fire, which began on Christmas night, has charred more than 1,250 acres.
A Santa Barbara County Air Support helicopter makes a water drop while working the Solimar Beach wildfire in Ventura County on Dec. 26, 2015. The fire, which began on Christmas night, has charred more than 1,250 acres.
Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. via AP
Parked on the closed U.S. Highway 101, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department fire engine and crew douse a hot spot while working the Solimar Beach wildfire in Ventura County on Dec. 26, 2015. The fire, which began on Christmas night, has charred more than 1,250 acres.
Santa Barbara County firefighter Chris Hansen works to douse a flare-up on an oil field access road while working the Solimar Beach wildfire in Ventura County on Dec. 26, 2015. The fire, which began on Christmas night, has charred more than 1,250 acres.
Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. via AP
Parked on the closed U.S. Highway 101, a Santa Barbara County Fire Department fire engine and crew douse a hot spot while working the Solimar Beach wildfire in Ventura County on Dec. 26, 2015. The fire, which began on Christmas night, has charred more than 1,250 acres.
A Cal Fire inmate hand crew works to remove brush to prevent a wildfire from spreading to a remote oil field access road in Ventura County on Dec. 26, 2015.
Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. via AP


A 15-mile stretch of Highway 101 in Ventura County was reopened Saturday afternoon after a fast-moving brush fire started by a downed power line late Friday night erupted near Solimar Beach.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, the fire had burned 1,236 acres and was 60 percent contained, with about 400 firefighters continuing to work the fire lines, said Ventura County Fire Department officials.

The fire, reported at about 10:30 p.m. Friday, was whipped by 50 mph winds and threatened about 30 homes, none of which were damaged. With the flames endangering motorists on Highway 101, fire department officials notified the California Highway Patrol that the road needed to be closed. The CHP shut down the highway between state Highway 33 and state Highway 150. Train traffic through the area was also suspended.

Fire Tracker

The forward progress of the fire, which ripped through several hundred acres in the first hours, slowed considerably Saturday morning and four fixed-wing aircraft that were initially used for water drops were released from their duties by midday, said Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Mike Lindbery. 

SBCFireInfo video

By 2 p.m. Saturday, the CHP began reopening Highway 101 and train traffic was allowed to resume. A section of Pacific Coast Highway between the State Beaches and Seacliff off-ramps was opened around 5 p.m.

Two firefighters sustained minor injuries while fighting the fire — the only injuries reported.

Ed Joyce tweet

A mandatory evacuation order for residents of about 60 homes in Solimar Beach and a voluntary evacuation notice for about 40 Faria Beach homes were lifted Saturday evening. Fire officials said the Emma Wood Campground would remain closed until further notice.

A Red Cross shelter that was set up at the Carpinteria Veteran Memorial Building was closed.

SLOStringer video

By midday Saturday, the CHP reported that traffic on Highway 33 and Highway 150 around the closure was bumper-to-bumper.

Ventura County Fire Battalion Chief Fred Burris said that when crews arrived on the scene Friday night, "We had multiple motorists [on Highway 101] stranded with the flames impinging on the highway. We had motorists making U-turns going opposing directions on the freeway with other motorists, not realizing the situation."

Maaike Maks video

Lindbery said most of the areas burned in the wildfire were charred in the first few hours due to brush in the region being extremely dry.

"Unfortunately, the rain that we've had in California has missed Ventura County," Lindbery said. "It's fallen fairly strong in L.A. County and north of us here. But in Ventura County most of our storms have delivered less than a tenth of an inch. So that has left us very dry."

Lindbery tweet

This story was updated.