Update Monday, 2:20 p.m.
Caltrans has reopened Highway 166 west of New Cuyama, as of Monday afternoon.
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There are about 487 fire personnel working the Front Fire, according to the U.S. Forest Service. There are currently five helicopters assigned to the fire.
Update Monday, 12:30 p.m.
Fire officials say the Front Fire has burned 875 acres. The drop in acreage was due to improvements in mapping the fire, according to the U.S. Forest Service. About 487 firefighters are battling the blaze, which is 5 percent contained.
Update Monday, 7:30 a.m.
The Front Fire has burned more than 1,000 acres and was listed at 5 percent containment. Highway 166 has been closed between Highway 101 and 33 since Sunday night.
About 700 firefighters are involved in the battle Monday, and full containment could take a week.
A brush fire was burning Sunday afternoon on Highway 166 east of the Santa Maria Valley, according to emergency dispatch reports.
At about 1:30 p.m., personnel from Los Padres National Forest, Santa Barbara County Fire Department and Cal Fire responded to the blaze north of Highway 166 at Rock Front Ranch.
The blaze, dubbed the Front Fire, had ballooned to 300 acres, Andrew Madsen, Forest Service spokesman, said at 3:30 p.m. “We’ve initiated a full response, including air tankers,” Madsen said.
By 4:30 p.m., the fire had burned more than 600 acres with zero containment. Sounds of air tankers and other aerial firefighting tools could be heard over Santa Maria on Sunday afternoon. Authorities were discussing whether to close Highway 166 due to the fire and equipment in the area, but the highway remained open at 3 p.m.
Due to the location of the fire, Los Padres National Forest personnel were managing the incident.
More than 150 firefighters were involved in the battle Sunday afternoon, according to Forest Service information. The cause of the fire remained under investigation, authorities said.