This is a developing wildfire story. Please check back frequently for updates.
As evacuation orders continue to expand amid the massive Thomas Fire burning in Ventura County, residents trying to flee the danger areas had to work around closures on the 101 Freeway and Highway 150 Thursday.
The fire has burned 96,000 acres — or about 150 square miles — and is just 5 percent contained, fire officials tweeted Thursday morning.
By early evening, new evacuation orders were issued for Santa Barbara County as the blaze continued to rage:
- Highway 192 on the south
- Highway 150 on the east
- Casitas Pass Road to East Camino Cielo
- Eastside 150 from Rincon Hill Road to Highway 101
- Bates Road
- Camino Carreta
- Rincon Point Road
- Rincon Point Lane
- Buena Fortuna
A full list of evacuations for Ventura County was posted at readyventuracounty.org.
The 101 Freeway was temporarily shut down to all northbound traffic at State Route 126, and to all southbound traffic beginning at Bates Road, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office stated in a news release early Thursday morning. The 101 was later reopened in both directions with escorts being provided, the California Highway Patrol tweeted just after 7 a.m.
State Route 150 was also closed between Carpentaria and Ojai, where mandatory evacuation orders were issued for some areas Wednesday night.
The fire spread overnight Wednesday into Thursday due to strong Santa Ana winds and grew significantly north of the City of Ojai, according to Cal Fire.
The fire was also moving north toward the Santa Barbara County line and Lake Casitas, as well as toward the Los Padres National Forest and Sespe Wilderness, Cal Fire stated.
Firefighters in La Conchita managed to save several homes from a flare up Thursday morning, Ventura County Fire Department Public Information Officer Rich Macklin said.
“We saved about six homes,” said Macklin, who described the firefight in that area as a success. Only one abandoned structure was lost.
The La Conchita homes were threatened hours after the main burn rolled through the area about 1 a.m., Macklin said.
Authorities made a grim discovery in Wheeler Canyon when they found the body of a woman in a wrecked car, Macklin said.
It was unclear if the crash was related to the fire.
About 2,500 firefighters were battling the blaze by ground and air, according to Cal Fire.
At least 150 structures have been destroyed, however that number is expected to rise when officials get a chance to resurvey the damage. At least 12,000 structures remain threatened.
Officials have advised residents in the Upper Ojai Valley, Casitas Springs Foster Park and entire City of Ventura boil all tap water for at least a minute before using it for cooking or drinking.
Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for the following areas Thursday:
- City of Santa Paula – Boundary of Say Road north to Thomas Aquinas, Dickenson Ranch Road east to Santa Paula Creek
- Santa Paula unincorporated area, east of Santa Paula Creek, north of highway 126, west of Hall Road and south of the Ventura Regional Sanitation
- City of Santa Paula – Boundary of Monte Vista Street north to city limits, Foothill Road from Steckel to Peck Road to north of city limits
- Santa Paula unincorporated area towards Ventura- North of Foothill Road from Peck Road to Wells Road including: Wheeler Canyon, Aliso Canyon and Rancho Vista
- City of Ventura – Teloma east to Brent Street, Telegraph Road north to north of Foothill Road
- City of Ventura – Victoria Road east to Hill Road, Telegraph Road north to Foothill Road
- City of Ventura – North Ashwood Avenue east to Hill Road, Telegraph Road north to Foothill Road
- City of Ventura – North of Foothill Road from Wells Road to Poli Street
- City of Ventura – North of Main Street from Seward Avenue to Hwy 33 (includes entire Ventura Avenue area)
- Oak View – Boundary of Hwy 33, Creek Road and Hermosa Road
- Meiners Oaks – North of E. El Roblar between Rice Road and Hwy 33
- Entire Community of Casitas Springs – Evacuate to Ventura County Fairgrounds – 10 West Harbor Blvd., Ventura
- Lake Casitas – North of Hwy 150 heading to Hwy 33 and south of Los Padres National Forest
- East Ojai Valley – Carne Road east to Koenigstein Road, SR 150 north to Thacher Road
- Ojai – Casitas Pass Road east to Rice Road, Baldwin Road to North of Matilija Canyon (Includes Burnham Road North to Baldwin Road)
- Upper Ojai Valley – Hwy 150 from Dennison Grade east to Osborne Road and all residences north
- Upper Ojai Valley (West) – Hwy 33 – Matilija Canyon
- Unincorporated Ventura County area – Residents and day visitors of Rose Valley
- Ventura County North Coast Area – Boundary of Hwy 33 on the north to Casitas Vista Road, northwest to Hwy 150, Hwy 150 (Casitas Pass Road) west to US 101 and south on US 101 (including Pacific Coast Highway) to Emma Wood State Beach
There are no evacuations in Santa Barbara County at this time.
Evacuation information can also be found at readyventuracounty.org.
The following communities are under voluntary evacuations Thursday:
- All residents of the Ojai Valley not currently covered under the current mandatory evacuation
- Residents in the City of Ventura, south of Loma Vista, east of Day Road, West of Victoria Avenue and north of Telegraph Road
- Residents in the City of Ventura, east of Victoria north of Loma Vista South of Foothill west of Wells Road
The following evacuation shelters are opened to residents:
- City of Ventura – Ventura County Fairgrounds at Miners Building (Red Cross – includes an animal shelter for all types of animals) – 10 W Harbor Blvd, Ventura, CA
- City of Ojai – Nordhoff High School (Red Cross) – 1401 Maricopa Hwy, Ojai, CA
- City of Fillmore – Veteran’s Memorial Building (Red Cross) – 511 2nd Street, Fillmore, CA
- City of Oxnard – Oxnard College Gymnasium (Red Cross) – 4000 S. Rose Ave, Oxnard, CA Open 12/5/17, 0700
- City of Santa Paula – Santa Paula Community Center (City of SP run shelter) 530 W Main St, Santa Paula, CA – Open 0800
- UC Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara Multi Activity Center – includes an animal shelter for small animals – preferably in crates, 516 Ocean Road, Santa Barbara, CA
The following schools and districts will be closed through Friday, according to the Ventura County Office of Education:
- ACE Charter High School
- Briggs Elementary School District
- Fillmore Unified School District
- Hueneme Elementary School District
- Mesa Union Elementary School District
- Mupu Elementary School District
- Ocean View Elementary School District
- Ojai Unified School District
- Oxnard Elementary School District
- Oxnard Union High School District
- Pleasant Valley School District
- Rio Elementary School District
- Santa Clara Elementary School District
- Santa Paula Unified School District
- Somis Union School District
- Ventura County Office of Education Career Education Center (Camarillo and Moorpark)
- Ventura County Office of Education-operated school sites and classrooms
- Ventura Unified School District
The following road closures are in place Thursday:
Ojai Valley & Ojai City & Unincorporated Areas
- Hard Closure – East bound SR-150, from Reeves Rd in Ojai to Stonegate Rd in Santa Paula
- Hard Closure – SR 150 (Casitas Pass Road) between Highway 33 and the 101
- Hard Closure – SR 150 at Santa Ana Road
- Hard Closure – SR 33 NB from Maricopa Highway and Ojai Avenue (the “Y”) to Matilija Canyon
- Hard Closure – Foothill Road at Olive / Cummings / Briggs / Peck / Wells / Highpoint / LaFonda / Skyline / Colina Vista
- Hard Closure – Ventura Avenue (Highway 150 / Highway 33) at the “Y”
- Hard Closure – Nye Road loop east of Highway 33 (Santa Paula/Ventura area)
- Hard Closure – Grand Avenue – all northbound streets
- Hard Closure – Foothill at Highpoint
- Hard Closure – Foothill at LaFonda
- Hard Closure – Foothill at Skyline
- Hard Closure – Foothill at Colina Vista
- Hard Closure – Wells Road at Foothill Road
- Hard Closure – Olive Road at Foothill Road
- Hard Closure – Cummings Road at Foothill Road
- Hard Closure – Peck Road at Foothill Road
The train tracks from Carpinteria to Faria Beach are closed and there are no Amtrak services in Ventura County. Those needing assistance with animal shelters can contact 866-387-8911.
Powerful winds all week long have made the situation all the more difficult for firefighters.
Red flag warnings are in effect for the Ventura County area through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
The Thomas Fire began Monday evening north of Santa Paula, according to Cal Fire.
No official cause of the fire has been determined.
Those who would like to help the fire relief efforts were asked to send donations to redcross.org.