Follow Day 3 coverage of the Alamo Fire here: http://tribne.ws/2tUEL9M
▪ ▪ ▪
The mandatory evacuation area has been expanded for the Alamo Fire, according to Santa Barbara County Fire. An evacuation order is in place for Tepusquet Road from Blazing Saddle Drive south to Santa Maria Mesa Road. This includes the Colson Canyon area.
Santa Barbara County earlier issued a mandatory evacuation for White Rock Lane and the Tepusquet Canyon/Blazing Saddle Drive area.
Update: 7:35 p.m.
The Alamo Fire has grown to 3,400 acres.
Update: 6:07 p.m.
The Red Cross has opened a shelter for residents affected by the Alamo Fire at the Minami Community Center in Santa Maria. The center is located at 600 West Enos Drive.
Update: 5:30 p.m.
The Alamo Fire burning east of Santa Maria continued its breakneck pace into Friday evening, reaching 3,000 acres by 5:30 p.m., according to a Cal Fire tweet.
Santa Barbara County issued a mandatory evacuation for White Rock Lane and the Tepusquet Canyon/Blazing Saddle Drive area.
Update: 4:45 p.m.
Santa Barbara County has issued an additional evacuation warning for the Alamo Fire. Mandatory evacuation orders are now in place for White Rock Lane, according to a tweet from Santa Barbara County Fire.
Update: 3:45 p.m.
The Alamo Fire burning east of Santa Maria began gaining ground rapidly Friday afternoon, growing to 500 acres by 3:30 p.m., according to a Cal Fire tweet.
The flames were spreading at an “extreme rate” and began spotting in front of the main fire. The San Luis Obispo City Fire Department sent an engine, a strike team leader and a safety officer to help out and called in off-duty staff to maintain city coverage, according to a tweet.
Santa Barbara County issued the evacuation warnings for the Tepusquet Canyon/Blazing Saddle Drive area to the southeast of the fire, according to Cal Fire.
Update: 3:10 p.m.
Evacuation warnings were issued Friday afternoon as the Alamo Fire burning east of Santa Maria jumped over previously established containment lines and grew to 250 acres.
Santa Barbara County issued the warnings for the Tepusquet Canyon/Blazing Saddle Drive area to the southeast of the fire, according to Cal Fire.
Update: 2:30 p.m.
Hot temperatures Friday fueled the Alamo Fire northeast of Santa Maria near Twitchell Reservoir, which reached 250 acres by mid-afternoon, according to a Cal Fire tweet.
Cal Fire crews requested additional resources after flames spotted across Highway 166, which remains closed between Highway 101 in Santa Maria and Tepusquet Road.
The fire is burning at a “dangerous rate of spread,” though no homes are threatened. Crews are now battling the blaze in both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, according to the tweet.
The Alamo Fire near Twitchell Reservoir held steady at 175 acres on Friday morning, and crews managed to increase containment to 20 percent.
The blaze burning northeast of Santa Maria ignited about 3:40 p.m. on Thursday and had grown to about 100 acres by 4:50 p.m.
Officials shut down Highway 166 between Highway 101 in Santa Maria and Tepusquet Road just after 4:30 p.m. No structures were threatened, and no injuries have been reported.
Fire crews on Friday plan to focus on building and maintaining containment lines and making sure the fire doesn’t spread, said Chris Elms, a Cal Fire spokesman. It didn’t burn the area in a clean sweep, leaving behind patches of vegetation that could ignite.
“It’s a pretty steep area, and it was a pretty dirty burn in some areas,” Elms said.
Firefighters will continue to battle the blaze on the ground with help from helicopters — air tankers aren’t currently being used but remain on standby, Elms said. Temperatures are expected to climb into the 90s today, which won’t make crews’ jobs any easier, Elms said.
“We’ve still got a lot of hot spots and a lot of line out there,” he said.
Highway 166 will remain closed through Friday and will likely remain off-limits to drivers until the fire is contained, Elms said.
“We’re pretty fortunate,” Elms said. “There’s nothing in this area but vegetation.”
Noozhawk.com contributed to this report.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect spelling for Tepusquet in some references.