Waning winds presented firefighters with new challenges fighting a fire in Southern California’s coastal mountains, which threatening ranches and rural homes and bringing a critical highway to a standstill for days on end.

At one point the fire was jumping across the four-lane interstate and reaching a beach.

The National Weather Service said a new round of notorious sundowner winds would begin Tuesday, affecting southern Santa Barbara County, and increased fire risk was expected across other parts of California.

Ranch workers told me the fire was about half a mile away on Wednesday night, but that part of the fire was not as active as others, said Jessica Jensen, vice president and chief of staff for Young America’s Foundation, which runs the ranch.

The Alisal Fire has charred more than 15.360 acres (24 square kilometers) of Chaparral in the Santa Ynez Mountains west of Santa Barbara.

The fire broke out Monday near the Alisal Reservoir, and strong northerly winds carried flames down the mountain, forcing the closing of US 101 in western Santa Barbara County.

California wildfires have burned nearly 3.800 square miles (3.900 square kilometres) this year, destroying more than 3.600 homes, businesses and other areas, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Red flag warnings should be in place for inland Northern California Thursday due to gusts and low humidity.

Thomas Fire

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The Thomas Fire was a massive wildfire that affected Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and one of multiple wildfires that ignited in southern California in December 2017. (wikipedia)

Santa Barbara County Fire Department

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department provides fire protection and emergency response services for the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County, California, (wikipedia)

Rancho del Cielo

Rancho del Cielo, also known in its English translation as Sky’s Ranch or Heaven’s Ranch, is a 688-acre /278-hectare ranch located atop the Santa Ynez Mountain range northwest of Santa Barbara, (wikipedia)

Santa Ynez Valley

The Santa Ynez Valley is located in Santa Barbara County, California, between the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south and the San Rafael Mountains to the north. (wikipedia)

Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara is a coastal city in Santa Barbara County, California, of which it is also the county seat. Situated on a south-facing section of coastline, (wikipedia)

Nancy Reagan

Nancy Davis Reagan was an American film actress and first lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989. She was the second wife of President Ronald Reagan. Reagan was born in New York City. (wikipedia)

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. A member of the Republican Party, (wikipedia)