California wildfire 60 percent contained, evacuations lifted

A major coastal highway has reopened in Southern California after firefighters made significant progress on a blaze that authorities say was caused by a downed power line.

Both sides of the 101 were closed overnight from State Route 33 to State Route 150, and reopened by 2:05 p.m., Fire Department Capt. Mike Lindbery tweeted.

The Union Pacific railroad tracks are also closed.

According to the National Fire Protection Association in 2014 there were 1,298,000 fires reported in the United States and these fires caused 3,275 civilian deaths, 15,775 civilian injuries, and $11.6 billion in property damage. The highways had been closed in both directions in an area 70 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. VCFD Fire Battalion Chief Norman Plott said some freeway medians were burned and melted from the flames that hopped across the lanes.

The wildfire was raging through 1200 acres of land just Northwest of Los Angeles in the Solimar Beach area of Ventura County.

The Solimar Beach community was under a mandatory evacuation order, while a voluntary evacuation notice was issued for the neighboring Faria Beach community, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. However, no homes burned and the evacuations were lifted by nightfall.

The Solimar Fire is pictured as the sun rises over the 101 Freeway in Ventura County on December 26, 2015.

"We're seeing fire embers all over the place", Kaufmann said.

'The winds are expected to shift several times today, initially blowing from the north, to the northeast and ending up from the northwest.

About 600 firefighters were battling the as yet uncontained blaze around Solimar Beach, located between Santa Barbara to the north and Malibu to the south, authorities said.

He urged that anyone who leaves for higher ground close all their windows and doors first.

Vanessa Coleman