Changing winds have posed new challenges for firefighters in the coastal mountains of Southern California, threatening farms and rural homes, and shutting down a major highway for several days.
The Alisal fire burned more than 24 square miles (15,442 acres) of dense chapel in the Santa Yunis Mountains west of Santa Barbara. Containment was only 5% on Wednesday evening.
Fire officials said the natural areas along the Pacific coast are sparsely populated, with more than 100 homes, farms and other buildings at risk.
Firefighters were guarding Rancho del Cello, once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan and known as the Western White House during their presidency. The 688-acre (278-hectare) farm where world leaders, hosted by Reagan, sit on top of a mountain range, feed on thick chaparral and grass over flames.
Based on staff reports from the farm, the fire was about half a mile (0.8 km) away Wednesday evening, but that part of the fire was not as active as the others, Young’s vice president and chief of staff Jessica Jensen said. Foundation, which now runs the farm.
“We are grateful that there was no fire on the Reagan Ranch property. The farm itself is still in a very defensive position,” Jensen told the Associated Press in an email.
The area has not burned since 1955, according to the Conservative Youth Organization.
The foundation said in a statement that the fire engines were on the farm property, and fire retardant would be sprayed around the structure. He noted that the helicopters had flooded one of the two lakes in the field.
Staff also protected an ExxonMobil Corporation gas processing facility in a valley surrounded by fire.
The fire broke out Monday near the Elysal Reservoir, and strong winds from the north blew the flames out of the mountains, shutting down US 101 in western Santa Barbara County. At one point, the fire jumped off a four-lane highway and reached a beach. The closure has forced motorbikes to take short distances.
Andrew Madison, a spokesman for the US Forest Service, said the highway could remain closed until the weekend.
Firefighters working in steep, rugged terrain were helped by more than a dozen submerged air tankers and helicopters that returned to the skies during the day amid calm winds. Las Pedres National Forest Fire Chief Jim Harris said changing the winds could cause planes to land.
“As the winds change, this is the most dangerous and critical time of the fire, because the fire will change direction for us,” Harris said.
The National Weather Service says Wednesday night will be a new era of infamous hurricanes in southern Santa Barbara County, and other parts of California are expected to face an increased risk of fire.
A red flag warning is expected to be issued Thursday in the interior of Northern California due to high winds and low humidity. Forecasters are also planning to see fires in parts of Southern California on Friday due to Santa Ana winds.
Pacific Gas & Electric said it may have to cut off power to targeted parts of 13 Northern California counties on Thursday to prevent wildfires from igniting power lines. The utility has just restored power to about 25,000 customers who lost power due to Monday’s storm.
According to the State Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, California’s wildfires have burned approximately 3,300 square miles (10,101 square kilometers) this year and damaged more than 3,600 homes, businesses and other structures. Destroyed.
A historic drought in the American West linked to climate change is making it harder to fight wildfires. It has killed millions of trees in California alone. Climate change has made the West much hotter and drier over the past 30 years, scientists say, and will continue to make the weather more intense and wildfires persistent and destructive.