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Hwy 101 along the Gaviota Coast reopens after days of closure due to the Alisal Fire

alisal fire at 101.jpg
Posted at 6:08 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 22:31:40-04

Highway 101 along the Gaviota Coast is fully reopened after it was closed for four days due to the Alisal Fire.

A 20 mile stretch of the highway was closed Monday as the Alisal Fire broke out in the area of West Camino Cielo and Refugio Road, directly north of Refugio State Beach.

Officials with Caltrans say the closure was for public safety as it’s typically a highly traveled road. Caltrans' latest data from 2017 showed that 91,000 cars a day traveled Highway 101 at Fairview or 7,600 cars an hour. At El Capitan, that number was 32,000 cars a day or 2,700 cars an hour.

The growing blaze jumped the four-lane highway causing significant damage to the road and guardrails. Crews have been working day and night to safely reopen the highway.

This marks the second closure of Highway 101 for an extended period of time in recent years.

“A different section of Highway 101 was closed during the Montecito debris flow,” Shivers explained.

That closure lasted 11 days.

Meanwhile, as firefighters fight the fire from the air and the ground, Caltrans is working to repair damage up and down Highway 101.

“We have performed guardrail repairs. We have installed one sign where the posts were damaged by fire. There are some post mile marker signs that we'll be working on,” Shivers said.

Caltrans crews will also be surveying culverts and drainage facilities to make sure they’re in working order.

During the time of the closure, drivers were being turned around southbound at Las Cruces and redirected to either Interstate 5 or Highway 154.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Alisal Fire has burned more than 16,000 acres and is 5% contained.