California wildfire burns 1,200 acres, closes 101 highway

Southern California Fire Grows To 1,200 Acres; Threatens Dozens of Homes
Southern California Fire Grows To 1,200 Acres; Threatens Dozens of Homes

Firefighters on Saturday gained the upper hand on a wildfire northwest of Los Angeles that burned about 1,240 acres of land, forced the closure of parts of a major highway and led to evacuations, fire officials said.

Hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze in the Solimar Beach area of Ventura County and were able to draw containment lines around 60 percent of the conflagration by Saturday evening, county fire officials said.

The flames triggered the closure of parts of U.S. Highway 101, though both northbound and southbound lanes of the major roadway had reopened to traffic by late afternoon, officials said.

Click through images from the scene:

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, they said, and there were no reports of damage to structures.

Officials have said it could take at least three days to get the fire fully under control. The cause of the fire was still under investigation.

"Even if we do open up the roadways, it's still not a contained fire," Ventura County Fire Department Chief Norm Plott told reporters earlier in the day. "It's a very dynamic fire. We're not quite out of the woods yet."

The fire started at around 11 p.m. local time on Friday near Ventura, which is about 65 miles (105 km) northwest of Los Angeles, and strong winds as high as 50 miles per hour and dry vegetation caused it to grow rapidly, fire officials said.

At around 2 a.m. local time on Saturday in a video posted on Facebook, Ventura County Fire Department Captain Steve Kaufman said the fire was near the beach, "bumping up against the roadway. We're getting a bunch of embers in Solimar east."

The Solimar Beach community, with 50 to 60 homes, and a nearby campground were under a mandatory evacuation order, while a voluntary one had been issued for the nearby Faria Beach community, where there are 30 to 40 homes, fire officials said.

Officials had canceled the evacuations by Saturday evening.

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