SANTA BARBARA (CBSLA) – Hundreds of firefighters Thursday continued their battle against a large wildfire burning west of Santa Barbara.
The Alisal Fire has scorched 16,801 acres as of Thursday morning, with containment still only at 5%, according to the U.S. Forest Service. More than 1,300 fire personnel from multiple agencies are fighting the blaze on the ground and in the air with water-dropping helicopters and retardant dropping air tankers.
The blaze is burning in areas that have not seen a wildfire since 1955.
The strong winds, low humidity and ongoing drought have created the perfect storm of conditions to fuel the blaze, officials say.
The Alisal Fire broke out before 2:30 p.m. Monday amid powerful winds near Alisal Lake in the Santa Ynez Mountains. It was burning in dense chaparral, brush and grass, with thick smoke visible throughout the county. There was no word of a cause.
Highway 101 is closed from Highway 1 at Las Cruces, to Winchester Canyon Road in Goleta. Amtrak and Pacific Railroad lines are closed between Gaviota and Goleta.
Evacuation orders are in place for Arroyo Hondo Canyon, Refugio Canyon, and the area between El Capitan Beach State Park and West Camino Cielo. Between 100 and 120 structures were threatened, including ranch homes.
Smoke from the fire has been drifting into Ventura and Los Angeles counties. The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch for much of L.A. and Ventura counties that will take effect Friday morning through Saturday evening due to higher temperatures and gusty winds.