An eight day closure of Highway 154 due to the Whittier brush fire in Santa Barbara County ended late Sunday afternoon, with the reopening of the highway.
The highway had been closed from Santa Barbara to Highway 154 initially by the blaze itself, and later because of falling rock and downed trees. Crews have been busy for the last week removing debris and repairing damaged utility lines.
The fire was still officially at just over 18,000 acres burned, and 36% contained as of early Sunday evening. Later in the evening, containment was upgraded to 49%.
Meanwhile, Santa Barbara County officials declared a State of Emergency Sunday because of the Whittier and Alamo brush fires, which together have burned about 47,000 acres of land. The declaration is a formality which sets the stage for potential state and federal disaster relief.