Solimar Fire 70% contained, caused by arcing powerlines

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UPDATE (Sunday morning): Ventura County fire crews are continuing on Sunday to work on the 1,236-acrea brush fire in the Solimar Beach area, which started late Christmas night.

Thirty Los Angeles County firefighters and one helicopter were sent early Saturday to Ventura County to help battle a 1,236-acre brush fire at Solimar Beach, authorities said.

The fire has spread rapidly, stoked by winds in excess of 40 mph. The fire was 60% contained as 5 p.m., according to the Ventura County Fire Department. It started at 10:42 p.m. Friday six miles northwest of
Ventura, north of the 101 Freeway.

A downed private power line is believed to have started the blaze with help from strong winds, Ventura County Fire Chief Mike Lorenzen said.

More than 400 firefighters continue to work the scene, he said.

"We have made tremendous progress today, despite the challenges of high winds, steep terrain and significant brush,'' Lorenzen said. ``We were able to bring a stop to all forward progress of the fire and we did not lose any
structures.''

Officials said no homes were immediately being threatened, although evacuations were still in place in Solimar Beach and area campgrounds.

Emma Wood State Camp remains closed, Lorenzen said.

The Ventura County Office of Emergency Services said all evacuation orders are expected to be lifted at 5 p.m. Saturday .

The 101 Freeway was shut down for hours in both directions between state highways 33 and 150. The northbound lanes re-opened around 1:45 p.m. Saturday, and the southbound lanes re-opened about 20 minutes later.

Pacific Coast Highway is closed between the State Beaches and Seacliff off-ramps, and is expected to re-open by 5 p.m.

The Orange County Fire Authority also sent a strike team consisting of 18 firefighters to help battle the fire, said OCFA Capt. Larry Kurtz.

The Ventura County Fire Department reported two minor injuries to firefighters, one an ankle injury and the other an injury to a knee.

A Red Cross shelter is at the Carpinteria Veteran Memorial, 941 Walnut Ave., Carpinteria.

Maaike Maks posted a dramatic video on Twitter showing how close the fire was to her vehicle as she and her Dutch family passed by late Christmas night.

Officials said no homes were immediately being threatened, although evacuations were still in place in Solimar Beach and area campgrounds. In a press briefing Saturday morning, authorities said homes were under mandatory evacuation in the Solimar Beach community and another 30 homes were subject to voluntary evacuation in Faria Beach.

Authorities recommend going to VCemergency.com for updates on evacuations and other updates.  They will also post updates on social media via the Twitter accounts @VCFD and @VCFD_PIO.

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