Brush fire erupts in exclusive Hollister Ranch amid strong winds and sweltering temperatures
A brush fire bolstered by strong sundowner winds erupted early Thursday, charring 200 acres and threatening homes in the exclusive coastal enclave of Hollister Ranch in Santa Barbara County.
The fire broke out shortly after 2 a.m. in medium brush between Gaviota State Beach and the Hollister Ranch guard gate. The blaze, pushed by gusty winds blowing up to 25 mph, quickly began burning downhill toward the ocean, said Daniel Bertucelli, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
Roughly 120 firefighters are battling the blaze, which is 10% contained, with the help of fixed-wing aircraft and water-dropping helicopters. The rural coastal area’s topography, which presents access challenges for firefighters, is frequently buffeted by strong winds.
The sundowner winds, similar to Santa Ana winds, have fueled many brush fires in Southern California, including the massive Thomas fire, which burned more than 281,000 acres in 2017.
Officials issued voluntary evacuation warnings for a handful of properties in the area. However, those residents chose to shelter in place. No homes have been damaged, Bertucelli said.
It is not clear how the fire started.
While fire activity appeared to have diminished significantly by daybreak, crews still face another hot day in the region, with temperatures spiking up to 90 degrees in the area. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for the coastal region through 9 p.m.
“Looking at it now, I feel pretty good about it, but we’re going to continue to be cautious,” Bertucelli said. “With the heat wave that we’re having and the windy conditions, we don’t want to take anything for granted.”
Another day of sweltering temperatures is also in store elsewhere across Southern California.
A heat advisory is in effect for Los Angeles County, warning of temperatures between 85 and 90 degrees along the coast and up to 100 degrees inland.
In downtown Los Angeles, temperatures are expected to spike to 95 degrees on Thursday, a roughly 20-degree departure from normal for this time of year, said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
Temperatures in the San Fernando Valley are expected to be even higher. Woodland Hills is expected to see the mercury rise to 100 degrees, Sweet said.
“It’s definitely going to be another hot day, but we’ll start to see some cooling today in areas closest to the coast,” Sweet said.
In response, Los Angeles County opened emergency cooling centers that will provide relief from the heat while also complying with physical-distancing guidelines implemented in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
This week’s heat has even broken some temperature records. Los Angeles International Airport reached 86 degrees on Wednesday, breaking the previous record for the day of 84 degrees set in 1953, according to the weather service.
Cooler conditions and a thicker marine layer will begin to return Friday and over the weekend into early next week, the weather service said.
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