A wind-whipped brush fire has kept a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway closed for hours and forced the evacuation of dozens of homes northwest of Los Angeles. The Ventura County Fire Department said the brush fire that started northwest of the city of Ventura spread to 1,200 acres Saturday. Winds reached 50mph in the dry area. Highway 101—a major north-south route in Southern California—was closed in both directions for roughly 15 miles from state Highway 150 to state Highway 33, forcing holiday travelers to take narrow, backcountry roads.
USA Today reports that fire officials hope to get the 101 open by Saturday afternoon, though they expect it'll take three days to contain the fire, which at this point is just 10% contained and is being fanned by winds that could hit 60mph Saturday night. "This is a very dynamic fire. This is not a contained fire. We're not out of the woods yet," says the division chief of Ventura County Fire Department. (A rep for the department clarified to Reuters that the only part of the Pacific Coast Highway that is closed is a portion that overlaps the 101.) About 60 homes were ordered evacuated in the coastal Solimar Beach community and another 30 were under voluntary evacuation. (Read more California stories.)