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Hungry Valley fire expands to 1,500 acres

Posted: June 24, 2012 7:16 p.m.
Updated: June 24, 2012 7:16 p.m.
 

GORMAN - A brush fire in Hungry Valley gobbled up more than 1,500 acres on the weekend and is still only 30 percent contained, fire officials report.

Whether fire crews bring the stubborn spreading fire under control depends on the wind, one firefighter said.

"The wind is testing them," said Jack Thompson as he stepped away from the fire line, shovel in hand.

"But, the wind is blowing north, back into the black (burned area) so that's good," he said.

The fire started shortly after noon on Saturday about five miles west of the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreational Area entrance near Gorman.

Within six hours, it swept into valleys and up hillsides, torching about 600 acres.

After 24 hours, the fire had consumed 1,500 acres.

"We're still concerned about Bear Mountain," said Manny Madrigal, spokesman for the Las Padres National Forest Service, lead agency in the firefighting efforts.

"It's steep terrain in there and it would be difficult for firefighters who can't get to it quickly," he said. "This is our concern at the moment."

The fire was kept to the north side of Piru Creek, threatening Bear Gulch, he said.

No one was injured and no structures burned, he added.

The fire started in a grassy area, moved into chaparral and was burning into some forested area by about 4:30 p.m. Most of the fire was in Ventura County, and California Highway Patrol officials reported no impact on Interstate 5 traffic.

Firefighters had to hike in to the fire, as roads are scarce in the area. Much of the firefighting was being conducted by helicopters and air tankers dropping water and fire retardant.

Water-dumping helicopters were pressed into action at daybreak Sunday and continued dousing the shallow hills east of Bear Mountain with water.

As well, fire trucks loaded with water sent water to the fire line 200 yards away.

Scores of firefighters set up their base camp of operations at Frazier Mountain High School, about eight miles from the fire line.

Firefighting units from the Sequoia National Forest Service and the Ventura County Fire Department were among the agencies called in to help battle the fire.

Campgrounds at Gold Hill and Frazier Camp were evacuated Saturday, Madrigal said.

Campers and off-roaders, however, were allowed into the Hungry Valley state park while fire crews worked just a short distance away.

jholt@the-signal.com
661-287-5527

 

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