Highway 101 partially shut, evacuation orders in place as Alisal Fire in Santa Barbara spread

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The Highway 101 was still closed from Winchester to Highway 1 as of Tuesday, 11:35 a.m., the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in Santa Barbara said. Travelers can take Highway 154 and Interstate 5 instead, it said.

“US 101 is closed to thru traffic at Winchester Canyon Road to SR 1 due to a large fire in the area. Please use I-5 as an alternate route,” the CHP Santa Barbara announced through Twitter. “There is no estimated time for re-opening.”

The road closure is caused by the huge fire that started Monday afternoon in the Santa Ynez Mountains.

As of Tuesday morning, the Santa Barbara Fire Department said that the Alisal Fire, located above Alisal Reservoir has already covered 6, 000 acres and is at zero containment. The fire puts 100 to 120 structures at risk.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the blaze passes across thick, dry grass and shrub, scattering at a fast pace due to the intense northerly winds. A huge smoke cloud coming from the fire can be seen along the Gaviota Coast and throughout the Santa Ynez Valley.

Highway 154 in Santa Barbara County was backed up Oct. 12 as the Alisal Fire closed a section of Highway 101.  

The fire driven by the winds reached Highway 101 toward Tajiguas Beach as of Monday afternoon. Photos of the fire crew at Highway 101’s northbound lanes, actively fighting the flames were shared by the Santa Barbara Fire Department.

The marks from the Sherpa Fire in 2016 and Real Fire in 2019 cut across the fire and inhabited areas.

Evacuation orders were already released by officials for Refugio Canyon residents, as well as in Arroyo Quemada, Tajiguas, and Arroyo Hondo. Later Monday, El Capitan State Park and the El Capitan Campground were added to the evacuation order’s list. Meanwhile, the area east to Dos Pueblos Canyon and north of El Capitan Campground were placed under an evacuation warning, SFGATE reported.

On Monday, the winds are at 30 mph to 35mph. Its gust can reach up to 70 mph. A high wind warning is in place for Santa Barbara County until Tuesday morning.