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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 9:02 am | Fair 48º


La Brea Fire: 108 Square Miles Burned; New Blaze Near Solimar Beach

Fire crews report progress on western flank

The week-old La Brea Fire grew to 108 square miles Friday as it burned in Los Padres National Forest east of Santa Maria, but firefighters made significant progress on a fire line on its western edge. Crews also successfully corralled a 140-acre brush fire that broke out Thursday near Los Alamos.

In the hills above Solimar Beach, just north of Ventura, meanwhile, a grass fire ignited in steep terrain Friday afternoon. Ventura County Fire Capt. Ron Oatman said the blaze had burned 150 acres by nightfall but full containment is expected Saturday. No structures were threatened and the cause was under investigation.

Nearly 2,000 firefighters were battling the 69,131-acre La Brea Fire, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Valerie Baca said Friday evening. About 250 homes and ranches remain under mandatory evacuation orders.

Officials said crews had strengthened the fire line on the blaze’s west flank, from Colson Canyon Quarry north toward Buckhorn Ridge, and they were holding the northern end of the Treplett fuel break near Miranda Pine. Fire-line construction is continuing from Cuyama Valley to Sierra Madre Ridge. Despite the progress, officials said, the fire remains just 10 percent contained.

The cause of the La Brea Fire remains under investigation and forest service investigators are seeking the public’s help. Investigators have spoken to witnesses, but are seeking additional information about a tan- or gold-colored 2004-05 Chevy van that was last seen on Sierra Madre Road the afternoon of Aug. 8. Anyone who was in that general area at the time or who has other information about the origin of the fire is urged to call investigators at 805.686.5074. Callers may remain anonymous.

Ash from the fire has spread throughout Santa Barbara County and an air-quality watch remains in effect at least through Monday, county Public Health Department officials said Friday.

Click here for the latest fire information, or call 805.961.5770 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Bill on Twitter: @noozhawk.

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