Officials closed U.S. 101 for more than a dozen miles along the coast, cutting off a major route between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for several hours as fire charred heavy brush along lanes.
Southern California has been hit hard by four major fires (Thomas, Skirball, Rye and Creek fires) that have put tens of thousands of people under evacuation orders and destroyed nearly 200 homes and buildings, a figure that is almost certain to grow.
The Thomas Fire in Ventura County has burned 96,000 acres, is 5 percent contained and threatens 15,000 structures, according to Cal Fire. The Rye Fire in Los Angeles County has burned 7,000 acres, is 15 percent contained and threatens more than 5,400 structures. The Creek Fire in Los Angeles County has burned 12,605 acres, is 10 percent contained and threatens 2,500 structures.
Millions of cellphones buzzed loudly Wednesday night from San Diego to Santa Barbara with a sound that usually means an Amber Alert, but this time meant a rare weather warning for strong winds making extreme fire danger.
Officials hope the electronic push will keep the region alert and the death toll from the week's fires at zero.
Melissa Rosenzweig, 47, was briefly back home Wednesday after evacuating from her Ventura house, which has been spared so far while most on her street had burned in the largest and most destructive of the region's fires. She and her husband were about to evacuate again, hoping they will get lucky twice as the new winds arrive.
"Heck yeah I'm still worried," Rosenzweig said. "We're very grateful but I know we're not out of the woods."