The Latest: Fire 60 percent contained; evacuation lifted

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VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — The latest on a brush fire that has closed a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway near Ventura, California (all times local):

5 p.m.

A 1,238-acre wildfire in coastal Southern California is now 60 percent contained and evacuation orders have been lifted for dozens of homes.

The Ventura County Fire Department says some 400 firefighters made great progress against the wind-driven blaze on Saturday and have stopped its forward spread.

Authorities say winds gusting to 50 mph in the area may have downed a power line on private property, sparking the blaze Friday night northwest of Ventura.

Winds also pushed the blaze downhill toward coastal homes, showering them with sparks.

About 50 homes were ordered evacuated in Solimar Beach community and another 30 nearby were under voluntary evacuation. However, no homes burned and the evacuations were lifted by nightfall.

One state park campground remains closed.

Earlier, a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 101 was reopened.

Authorities also have reopened a stretch of the scenic Pacific Coast Highway.


2:30 p.m.

A major coastal highway has reopened in Southern California after firefighters made significant progress on a blaze that authorities say was caused by a downed power line.

The Ventura County Fire Department said a roughly 15-mile stretch from state Highway 101 has reopened in both directions. It was closed late Friday almost immediately after the fire began, forcing holiday motorists to narrow, backcountry roads.

Spokesman Tom Kruschke says a downed power line on private property caused the fire, which has spread to 1,250 acres.

Authorities say two firefighters have suffered minor injuries, one to a knee and another to an ankle.

Four aircraft and about 600 firefighters battled the blaze.


11:28 a.m.

A wind-whipped brush fire has kept a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway closed for hours and forced the evacuation of dozens of homes northwest of Los Angeles.

The Ventura County Fire Department said the brush fire that started northwest of the city of Ventura spread to 1,200 acres Saturday. Winds reached 50 mph in the dry area.

Highway 101 — a major north-south route in Southern California — was closed in both directions for roughly 15 miles from state Highway 150 to state Highway 33, forcing holiday travelers to take narrow, backcountry roads.

About 60 homes were ordered evacuated in the coastal Solimar Beach community and another 30 were under voluntary evacuation.

Ventura County Fire spokesman Tom Kruschke says the fire is about 10 percent contained.

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