Furious wildfire forces California evacuations, highway closures (VIDEO)

© Austin Curtis
A wildfire in Southern California has forced the temporary closure of one of the main interstate highways, as well as mandatory evacuations in the area, which is threatened by the fast-spreading blaze ravishing hundreds of acres of land.

The brush fire that engulfed some 1,200 acres on Solimar Beach near Ventura has resulted in the partial closing of the coastal 101 Freeway, which runs all the way to the Canadian border, on Saturday. As the fast-spreading inferno torched hillsides near the beach, mandatory evacuations were ordered.

“Even if we do open up the roadways, it’s still not a contained fire,” Ventura County Fire Department Chief Norm Plott told reporters. “It's a very dynamic fire. We’re not quite out of the woods yet.”

Cal Fire reported that the fire is 10 percent contained. More than 600 firefighters are battling the blaze that still poses a threat to oil, gas, power and railroads in the area.

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No deaths or injuries have so far been reported from the fire that started at around 11:00pm on Friday near the coastal city of Ventura. The fire that initially burned roughly 100 acres of land in the 3000 block of the West Pacific Coast Highway, was soon spread by strong winds as high as 50 miles per hour.

Dry vegetation also caused the fire to grow rapidly, fire officials said. In the early hours of Saturday morning, the fire prompted mandatory evacuations for the Solimar Beach area as the blaze threatened about 35 homes in the community. Voluntary evacuation is currently in effect for the Faria Beach residents.

Rescue teams from Los Angeles County Fire Department and Cal Fire, and the Orange County Fire Authority deployed helicopters with water tankers to contain the spread of the fire.