Huge Wildfire Closes Major California Highway

Officials in Southern California have closed parts of a major highway as crews battle a fast-spreading wildfire.Some 1,500 acres have been scorched overnight in the Solimar Beach area of Ventura County.

Wildfire Closes Major California Highway

The fire started late on Friday and quickly spread due to high winds and dry vegetation, county fire department spokeswoman Heather Sumagaysay said.

More than 600 firefighters were at the scene or en route to help battle the blaze located about 65 miles (105km) northwest of Los Angeles.

A mandatory evacuation order was put in place for the Solimar Beach community, while officials issued a voluntary evacuation order for the nearby Faria Beach community.

No injures have been reported and no structures have been damaged, but Ms Sumagaysay stressed the fire has not been contained.

Images from the area showed flames being whipped into the sky by high winds as the fire burned surrounding hills and up against the 101.

A video taken by Dutch tourist Maaike Maks, as her family drove through the middle of the raging fire in Ventura County on Christmas night, captured the terrifying ordeal.

Along with portions of the heavily-travelled highway, the nearby Union Pacific rail lines were also closed on Saturday due to the blaze.

Ms Sumagaysay said reopening the highway is a top priority, which officials said they hoped to accomplish by Saturday afternoon.

Fire officials had earlier reported that parts of the Pacific Coast highway also were closed, but Ms Sumagaysay said she was not aware of that.

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