Wildfire threatens famed Reagan Western White House in California

, Wildfire threatens famed Reagan Western White House in California, The Evepost National News

His Rancho del Cielo hosted top global diplomats, when it wasn’t off limits as the Reagans’ beloved, laid-back oceanview retreat

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California firefighters took advantage of a break in strong winds Wednesday afternoon to get aircraft aloft and dump retardant on a fast-moving wildfire about one kilometre from former President Ronald Reagan’s Western White House, officials said.

His Rancho del Cielo, or Ranch in the Sky, is a 688-acre ranch atop the Santa Ynez Mountain range. From 1974 it was used as a private retreat for Reagan and his wife, Nancy, and the family’s children. After he became president, it was famously a place they hosted officials from around the world. Since 1998 it has been the home of Young National’s, a Conservative foundation. Ronald Reagan passed away in 2004.

, Wildfire threatens famed Reagan Western White House in California, The Evepost National News

A crew of roughly 1,500 firefighters have so far steered the Alisal fire away from the Reagan ranch, where he hosted the likes of Queen Elizabeth and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, said Andrew Madsen, a spokesman for Los Padres National Forest, where the blaze is centered.

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“There are forecasts of high winds tonight, and we’re trying to get as much as we can done before then,” Madsen said.

The crews are also working to keep the fire away from a shuttered Exxon Mobil facility in Las Flores canyon, he added. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The fire, which broke out on Monday about 32 kilometres northwest of Santa Barbara in a sparsely populated corner of southern California, has grown to 13,600 acres and remains just five per cent contained, Madsen said. Santa Barbara is about 160 km northwest of Los Angeles.

Strong winds are forecast for this evening, which would halt flights of the planes dumping fire retardant, Madsen added, though he said firefighters hoped to get the blaze 15 per cent to 20 percent contained before gusts pick up.

The Alisal fire quickly grew on Tuesday amid strong winds, shutting down a section of a major highway and commuter train lines. California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday the state had secured federal funds to reimburse 75 per cent of local and state costs related to fighting the blaze.

California is on pace to suffer more burned acreage this year than last, the worst fire season on record when 4.2 million acres — an area the size of Hawaii — went up in flames.

— with additional reporting by National Post staff