SANTA BARBARA — More than 1,300 firefighters helped by aircraft dumping water and fire retardant worked, Thursday, to box in a wildfire in a Southern California coastal mountain range that has closed a major highway and rail line for days.

The Alisal Fire has charred more than 26 square miles of chaparral and grass in the Santa Ynez Mountains west of Santa Barbara since it erupted, Monday, amid high winds. It is only 5% contained.

Authorities have said the fire is a threat to about 100 ranches and isolated homes. Among the properties being protected is Rancho del Cielo, which was once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan and used as their western retreat during his presidency. The 688-acre ranch sits high atop the mountain range.

Winds when the fire broke out blasted flames down the face of the mountain range toward the Pacific Ocean and the fire reached a beach after jumping the US 101 highway and a rail line. The winds since then have shifted but have been less intense.

Firefighters, on Thursday, were focusing on stopping the movement of the blaze to the west after winds pushed it that way, late Wednesday, said fire information officer Kristen Allison.

Aircraft dropped  a long line of fire retardant along a ridgetop road  to help keep the fire from moving north and a wildfire burn scar from slowed the blaze’s movement to the east. An older burn scar lay to the west.

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