From the Ventura County Fairgrounds this morning, with helicopters flying overhead and a plume of smoke in the distance, Ventura County emergency personnel answered questions from various Southern California news agencies about the status of the Solimar Fire which is currently burning out of control.
According to Chief Mark Lorenzen of the Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD), the fire began around 11 p.m. Christmas night and has burned an estimated 1,200 acres of brush just northwest of the city of Ventura. The location of the flame of origin is unknown.
No structures have been lost, but approximately 100 homes have been evacuated. Solimar Beach residents are still under mandatory evacuation, and both Emma Wood and Faria Beach are under voluntary evacuation.
Travel on a holiday weekend is a chief concern for transportation agencies who reopened the railway around 10:30 a.m., as stranded travelers stood by. Three railroad ties were burned. The U.S. 101 is closed from Highway 33 to Bates Road. Pacific Coast Highway, north and south bound, is closed from State Beaches to Seacliff where guard rails sustained damage. California Department of Transportation is hoping to reopen the 101 later this afternoon but that could change depending on weather conditions.
Steady 25 mph winds which fire officials said are similar to the winds seen in historic Southern California fires, are driving the fire through steep, broken and eroded terrain as 600 firefighters along with helicopters and fixed wing planes attempt to slow it down.
Officials stressed that the situation is “dynamic” and with strong winds expected to arrive in Ventura County later this afternoon it could worsen. They said that while the area received a little rain recently, at only one tenth of an inch, it’s done nothing to improve dry conditions which are causing the fire to resist firefighters’ control. Containment could take up to three days. No homes or other structures are currently threatened.
When asked whether or not they were concerned about nearby oil production, officials said that oil companies have complied with orders to clear brush around their operations and have been working with emergency personnel to avoid any problems.
For updates, go to vcemergency.com or follow the VCFD @vcfd or @vcfd_pio.