SANTA BARBARA — Firefighters reported significant progress in corralling a wildfire in Southern California coastal mountains, on Friday.
The Alisal Fire in the Santa Ynez Mountains west of Santa Barbara grew only slightly since Thursday morning to 26.4 square miles and containment of the blaze jumped to 41%, up from 5% 24 hours earlier.
The improved situation allowed authorities, Thursday evening, to reopen portions of US 101, the region’s main highway, and a rail line that runs next to the highway. They had been closed since Monday.
In its first damage report, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department said that of more than 400 structures that were threatened by the fire, three homes and two outbuildings were destroyed.
The fire erupted during fierce winds, Monday afternoon, and spread rapidly down the face of the mountain range, leaping the highway and railroad to the beach below.
Firefighting weather greatly improved since then, allowing airplanes and helicopters to bombard the fire with retardant and water.
Elsewhere in California, gusty winds and low humidity triggered red flag warnings for extreme fire danger in much of adjacent Ventura and Los Angeles counties, but the rest of the state was free of critical fire danger warnings.
Some rain and snow was expected, Sunday, in Northern California, and long-range National Weather Service forecasts suggested a possible pattern of more significant precipitation that would help ease wildfire risks.