VENTURA (CBSLA) — Santa Ana winds returned overnight to push the raging Thomas Fire closer to Ojai and Santa Barbara on two fronts, and forcing the closure of Highway 101 for miles.
The Thomas Fire has burned 90,000 acres, with no containment, even on the third day of battling the blaze.
In Ojai, residents are starting to evacuate their horses as the glow of flames approach from the west on one flank of the fire.
In La Conchita, Highway 101 has been closed for 16 miles at State Route 126. State Route 150 was also closed between Carpinteria and Ojai, cutting off access between Ventura and Santa Barbara. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office offered no alternatives and said simply in its statement to the public to avoid the area.
US Hwy 101 N/B is closed at S/R 126 with no ETA to reopen. https://t.co/5iio63KyOV
— Ventura Co. Sheriff (@VENTURASHERIFF) December 7, 2017
In Carpinteria, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s officials say 300 people had to evacuate from the Rincon Point Area of Carpinteria, an area that was previously under voluntary evacuation. An evacuation shelter was opened at UC Santa Barbara’s Multi Activity Center, 516 Ocean Road. Santa Barbara Animal County Services are handling the evacuation of large animals and pets.
Gusty Winds laid down Wednesday, giving firefighters some time to gain ground on the fire. Air tankers that had been grounded much of the week because of high winds flew on Wednesday, dropping flame retardant. Firefighters rushed to attack the fires before winds picked up again.
But those vicious Santa Ana winds flared up again with a vengeance Wednesday night. Winds of 80 mph were forecast for Thursday.