(CNN)The heavy winds that have been fanning the Alisal Fire -- which already closed part of Highway 101 and shuttered Amtrak railways in Santa Barbara County, California, are likely to continue, possibly hindering progress in battling the blaze -- and triggering power outages.
California's Alisal Fire threatens power outages, prompts evacuations and sparks concerns over Ronald Reagan's Rancho del Cielo
"When the winds are strong and they shift, it isn't good for firefighters. And that will continue to take place into the weekend," CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.
The fire has grown to 16,800 acres since it was sparked Monday about 20 miles northwest of Santa Barbara in Refugio Canyon, according to InciWeb. The fire prompted local officials to issue evacuation orders and caution residents about poor air quality caused by the smoke.
Crews were also sent to protect former President Ronald Reagan's Rancho del Cielo -- which is "several miles" away from where the fire is burning, local officials said.
While firefighters have been able to reach the upper end of the fire, other parts have been inaccessible, Matt Ferris, deputy incident commander with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, said Wednesday during a news conference. Containment remained at 5% on Thursday.
"We are unable to drop down the sides -- east and west -- because of the turbulence and the high wind velocity," Ferris said.
The high wind threat led utility company PG&E to issue a power shutoff warning for portions of 11 counties: Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Lake, Napa, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama and Yolo. The company said the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) helps prevent wildfires from sparking.