A brush fire pushed by some of the most powerful winds of the season grew to more than 1,000 acres in just three hours, climbing a hillside near homes and surrounding the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in thick smoke.
The Easy Fire, estimated at about 1,300 acres, was reported Wednesday around 6 a.m. on a hillside between Simi Valley and Moorpark during extreme fire weather conditions. Buildings at the hilltop library were not immediately threatened, but homes below were evacuated.
About 1,000 structures are threatened and about 6,500 homes are evacuated in the area about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The evacuations affect about 26,000 residents.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for the following areas in the southeast Ventura County region. Click here to view an updated evacuations map.
- North Border: Tierra Rejada
- South Border: Olsen / Madera Street
- East Border: Madera Street
- West Border: Highway 23
Water-dropping aircraft were over the flames, some flying low in gusty winds to hit hot spots with precise drops.
There were no reports of injuries.
The Reagan Library, perched on top of a hill overlooking parts of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, has extensive wildfire protection features, such as brush clearance around the property, including goats deployed to eat vegetation that would otherwise be fuel for fires.
Firefighters were positioned near the library, which was closed for the day.
The Ventura County Fairgrounds is open for large animal evacuations. Video showed owners loading horses into trailers to escape the flames.
Highway 23 is closed between Los Angeles Avenue and Avenida de los Arboles.
Several schools were closed in Ventura County due to high-risk wildfire conditions. Click here for an updated list.
The strongest Santa Ana winds of the season, possibly in the last decade, are expected Wednesday. The winds, produced by surface high pressure over the Great Basin squeezing air down through canyons and passes in Southern California’s mountain ranges, are common in the fall and have a long history of fanning destructive wildfires in the region.
Fall is historically one of the most dangerous times of the year for wildfires in California. Seven of the state’s 10-most destructive wildfires occurred in October — many fueled by monster winds, including Santa Ana gusts.
Through Oct. 27, more than 5,000 wildfires have been reported in California, according to CALFIRE figures. The fires have burned more than 74,000 acres.
About the same number of fires burned at the same time last year, but burned acreage was at an astounding 632,000 due to some of the worst wildfires in state history.
California’s five-year average for the same period is 6,190 fires and 198,300 acres.
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag
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Source: NBC San Diego