A Ventura County brush fire that quickly grew to more than 1,200 acres, prompted mandatory evacuations and temporarily forced the closure of a section of Pacific Coast Highway is now about 75% contained, officials said Sunday.
Strong winds fueled the Solimar fire north of Ventura overnight, flaring up a spot fire late Saturday that was pushing toward a highway before firefighters knocked it down, said Capt. Mike Lindbery of the Ventura County Fire Department.
A second flare-up occurred inside the burn area but did not pose a threat to the fire line. More than 420 firefighters are still fighting the blaze Sunday morning, assisted by one water-dropping helicopter.
Emma Wood State Beach remained closed Sunday morning, fire officials said. Pacific Coast Highway is now open in both directions, but motorists should be cautious of fire equipment working along the roadway.
The brush fire, which was started by arcing power lines, began shortly after 11 p.m. Friday about 10 miles north of Ventura, fire officials said. The blaze quickly spread, with flames pushed by north winds that reached 50 mph, authorities said.
The fire prompted mandatory evacuations Saturday in Solimar Beach neighborhoods. Holiday campers were also forced to evacuate nearby campgrounds.
The blaze also forced the closure of a section of Pacific Coast Highway between Ventura and Santa Barbara, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The highway was reopened in both directions about 2 p.m. Saturday. Evacuation orders were lifted a few hours later.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, but no structures were damaged.
By Sunday morning, the strong winds were tapering off.
“There’s been a little bit of lingering northeast wind up at the fire site, and we’re expecting it to die out pretty rapidly by noon or so,” said David Sweet, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Oxnard.
The northeast winds will be replaced by a sea breeze this afternoon, Sweet said. “It will increase moisture in the area.”
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Staff writer Alice Walton contributed to this report.