SANTA BARBARA — A wildfire raging through Southern California coastal mountains threatened ranches and rural homes and kept a major highway shut down, Wednesday, as the fire-scarred state faced a new round of dry winds that raise risk of infernos.
The Alisal Fire covered more than 24 square miles in the Santa Ynez Mountains west of Santa Barbara, and the number of firefighters was nearly doubled to 1,300, with more on the way. Containment remained at 5%.
While the scenic region along the Pacific shoreline is lightly populated, the blaze was a threat to more than 100 homes, ranches and other buildings, fire officials said.
Fire crews were protecting Rancho del Cielo, which was once owned by Ronald and Nancy Reagan and was known as the Western White House during his presidency. The 688-acre ranch where Reagan hosted world leaders sits atop the mountain range, above the flames feeding on dense chaparral and grasses.
Based on staff reports from the ranch, the fire was about a half-mile away, late Wednesday morning, but that section of the blaze was not as active as others, said Jessica Jensen, vice president and chief of staff of the Young America’s Foundation, which now operates the ranch.
“We are thankful that there has been no fire activity on the actual Reagan Ranch property. The Ranch, itself, is still in a very defensible position,” Jensen said in an email to The Associated Press.