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Santa Anas drive Ventura County blaze

Santa Clarita Valley not threatened, but wind and hot weather will continue through today

Posted: September 22, 2009 10:21 p.m.
Updated: September 22, 2009 10:43 p.m.

A firefighter with the Montebello Fire Department keeps watch over a wildfire as it burns in Fillmore on Tuesday.

 
Los Angeles County firefighters from local stations joined in battling a Santa Ana wind-whipped wildfire that began in Fillmore on Tuesday and threatened Moorpark, fire officials said.

The blaze began as much of the region is under a red-flag fire warning due to high temperatures and winds combined with low humidity.

Though smoke could be seen from the Santa Clarita Valley, Ventura County Fire Department officials said they did not expect the fire to move into the valley.

The blaze, which started at East Guiberson Road near Shiells Canyon Road in Fillmore, spread over 6,000 acres — more than nine square miles — threatening the northwestern area of the city of Moorpark, said Ventura County fire spokesman Bill Nash.

Evacuations were ordered for scattered ranches and homes. Fire Capt. Ron Oatman couldn’t provide a specific number but said many homes and power lines were threatened. At least one small building was burned.

The fire was believed to have been ignited by spontaneous combustion of manure at a ranch, a Sheriff’s Department statement said.

Temperatures topped 100 degrees and humidity fell to single digits while winds gusted to 30 mph Tuesday, Nash said.

“Those are all the ingredients you need to make a fast-moving fire,” he said.

Helitankers and a DC-10 jumbo jet bombarded the flames with retardant and water while hundreds of firefighters worked on the ground. Two minor injuries to firefighters were reported.

City spokesman Hugh Riley said the local water district authorized avocado growers to turn on irrigation sprinklers in their orchards to try to preserve them. He noted that the fire was following the path of a blaze several years ago.

“That was a big one, and fortunately it burned a lot of the fuel that could feed this one,” he said.

Santa Clarita Valley winds were blowing at 15 to 25 mph Tuesday with some winds gusting at 40 mph, said National Weather Service specialist Stuart Seto. Fillmore winds were blowing from 15 to 25 mph with some winds gusting to 35 mph and a few isolated winds reaching up to 50 miles per hour, he added.

“Santa Clarita recreational area and the Santa Monica mountains are under a red-flag warning until 6 p.m. Thursday,” Seto said. Fillmore’s red-flag warning is expected to end by 9 p.m. Thursday, he added.

While lower winds help lessen the chance of fires, Seto said the weather will still contribute to hazardous fire conditions because of continued low humidity.

Newhall temperatures reached a high of 106 degrees Tuesday. Wednesday's Newhall temperatures are expected to reach 102 degrees before they go down slightly through the rest of the week, reaching the mid-90s by Sunday, Seto said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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