California

Firefighters gaining control of huge blaze

Embers flying as strong winds fan the Solimar brush fire in Ventura County on Saturday. The wildfire in California burned more than 400ha of land and led to evacuations.
Embers flying as strong winds fan the Solimar brush fire in Ventura County on Saturday. The wildfire in California burned more than 400ha of land and led to evacuations.PHOTO: REUTERS

VENTURA • Firefighters have gained the upper hand on a wildfire north-west of Los Angeles that burned about 400ha of land, forced the closure of parts of a major highway and led to evacuations.

Hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze in the Solimar Beach area of Ventura County in California and were able to draw containment lines around 60 per cent of the conflagration by Saturday evening, county fire officials said.

The flames triggered the closure of parts of Highway 101, though both north-bound and south-bound lanes of the major US roadway had reopened to traffic by late afternoon, officials said.

 

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, they said, and there were no reports of damage to structures.

Officials have said it could take at least three days to get the fire fully under control. The cause of the blaze was still under investigation.

"Even if we do open up the roadways, it's still not a contained fire," Ventura County Fire Department Chief Norm Plott said on Saturday. "It's a very dynamic fire. We're not quite out of the woods yet."

The fire started late on Friday night near Ventura, which is about 105km north-west of Los Angeles, and strong winds as well as dry vegetation caused it to spread rapidly, fire officials said.

Residents were allowed back into their homes on Saturday afternoon.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2015, with the headline 'Firefighters gaining control of huge blaze'. Print Edition | Subscribe