Update, 3:40 p.m.:
More than 14 hours after being shut down because of a wind-whipped vegetation fire, Highway 101 between Carpinteria and Ventura was reopened to traffic in both directions Saturday afternoon.
After Caltrans crews inspected charred medians and signs, traffic on the freeway was allowed to begin flowing again shortly before 2 p.m., according to the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management.
One lane was to remain closed for use by emergency responders.
Parts of Pacific Coast Highway, which runs parallel to the freeway, remained closed, but were expected to reopen by 5 p.m.
Original story, 10:50 a.m.
A wind-whipped vegetation fire that broke out Friday night near Solimar Beach in Ventura County has closed Highway 101 in both directions.
According to the CHP, Highway 101 was closed Saturday morning from Highway 33 in Ventura to Highway 150 in Santa Barbara. Highway 150 was open but very congested with traffic, officials said.
As of 9 a.m., the Solimar Fire was estimated at 1,200 acres, with 600 firefighters on scene or en route to help fight the fire, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. The fire was 10 percent contained.
Four fixed-wing tankers were also en route. Cal Fire San Luis Obispo has sent a total of 80 personnel, including two hand crews, and eight engines and two dozers.
Officials said at a news briefing Saturday morning that they hope to open Highway 101 by Saturday afternoon. Caltrans first must assess the freeway because the fire caused damage to the medians that separate traffic, Ventura County Fire Capt. Mike Lindbery said.
“We understand the importance of the highway, especially on a holiday weekend,” Lindbery said. “That’s been one of the priorities — to make sure the highway gets opened up.”
Fire officials do not know the cause of the fire, Lindbery said.
Read more at Noozhawk.com.