Highway 101 Remained Opened Despite Visible Flames From Freeway Lanes
There were visible flames from the freeway lanes, smoke could be seen – and smelled – from 50 miles away and there was an eerie color to the sky that made the sun completely disappear in mid-afternoon.
This is what it was like driving through the Ventura County fire along Highway 101. I was traveling with a PubClub.com associate from Cayucos, a small beach town in Central California, to the Los Angeles town of Hermosa Beach.
That put us right in the path in the Southern California wildfires.
We were not sure what to expect – further south, the 405 freeway was closed due to another fire between Santa Monica and Sherman Oaks, the so-called Skirball fire – but we decided to push on and assess the situation as we approached the fires.
Things moved smoothly until we approached Santa Barbara. We could smell the fire ahead of us and smoke covered the distant view like low-lying clouds. We pulled over north of Santa Barbara, about 50 miles from Ventura, to see the smoke hovering over the curved coastline.
The smoke got heavier thru Santa Barbara and the very moment we crossed the Ventura County line it turned ominous. The sky quickly went from light and white from the smoke to a dark tan color.
On the hillside on the east side of the 101, flames were clearly visible in at least half a dozen locations stretching for about a mile. On the west side of the 101, there was so much smoke the coastline was not at all visible. For comparison’s sake, this is normally one of the most scenic spots on the 101 with clear, wide ocean views.
Oddly, the traffic flowed like normal. It did not even slow in either direction.
At one spot, where flames were clearly visible, three or four people had pulled off the road to pull out their cell cameras to record it. Since my associate was driving, I was able to get the video shown in this post from the passenger seat.
As we moved south, the sky cleared and by the time we reached Oxnard, smoke was barely visible. Since we knew the Skirball fire was likely to make travel on the 405 difficult at best, we took Highway 1 down the coast and thru Malibu.
There, the sun was out, there was no visible smoke and surfers were hanging out on a cliff above a famous surf break at the Los Angeles-Ventura County line in a true “Southern California dude” scene.
We did not see any more evidence of fires until we hit Vista del Mar at LAX and the sunset in Hermosa Beach was thru that dark-tan sky which we had encountered in Ventura.
At no point did we feel in any danger, tho we could not help but feel for the people who lost their homes, businesses and other property.