Small brush fires along Highway 101 east of Ventura were keeping firefighters busy Sunday afternoon. No structures were threatened but southbound traffic from Santa Barbara was slower than usual as authorities tried to get the upper hand.
Authorities said a brush fire broke out under a southbound Highway 101 bridge near Emma Wood State Beach just after 3 p.m. Sunday. The fire grew to just under two acres before units from the Ventura County and Ventura City fire departments could knock it down, officials said.
The California Highway Patrol closed the southbound freeway lanes as well as southbound Highway 33 at Main Street in Ventura while firefighters were operating in the area. The CHP reopened both roadways at 6:45 p.m. Sunday.
A separate, spot fire broke out around 7 p.m. Sunday, the CHP reported, but firefighters quickly knocked it down.
With the freeway closed, many motorists turned to Highway 150 around Lake Casitas in an attempt to bypass the Highway 101 traffic jam. A passenger on a Santa Barbara Airbus vehicle bound for Los Angeles International Airport told Noozhawk that the detour took about 90 minutes to get to Ventura, typically about a 30-minute drive from Santa Barbara.