This is pretty close to my house and I was out putting lights out this morning when I saw the first Firehawk helo overhead. With 50 MPH gusts of wind and heavy sustained winds, this is a rager that has filled our neighborhood with smoke. It took hold quick and has been chewing through brush. Fortunately, the winds have shifted enough that we aren't getting the smoke right now, but our house smells pretty BBQd.
Moorpark, Calif. (AP) -- A fire driven by strong Santa Ana winds destroyed five homes Sunday and threatened hundreds of others as residents began to flee while flames raced through canyons and over hillsides.
The blaze burned about 4,100 acres, or six square miles, and destroyed five homes and damaged five others, said Ventura County Fire Capt. Barry Parker.
Fire officials called for voluntary evacuations as hundreds of residents packed up valuables while dozens of trailers used to transport livestock were lined up on a road.
``The sheriff's said if you see flames, leave,'' said Dave Hare, who was at a home on the site of a recycling business he owns. Although Hare's friend soaked his roof with water, ``I told him just forget it and get out of there,'' he said.
Some residents, however, stayed put and said they saw flames as high as 35 feet. In one neighborhood, the fire came within 100 yards of homes.
``I'm kinda nervous,'' said Arturo Huerta, 88, who got on top of the family's home with hose in hand and watched for burning embers.
Across the street, homeowner Tony Hewitt, 53, said the same area burned in 2003 when 16 homes were destroyed by a 97,000-acre wildfire in nearby Simi Valley. Hewitt said the vegetation had come back.
The blaze began at 2:30 a.m. and burned through heavy brush, eucalyptus groves and orchards in the northwest section of Moorpark.
Several hundred firefighters were hampered by 70 mph winds that were expected to last through the end of Sunday. Water-dropping helicopters also were used.
``We are in a structure protection mode,'' Parker said. ``It's smoky, it's dusty and it's hard to breathe.''
Parker added residents were told, ``It's time that you leave.''
There was no containment figures and no injuries were reported. A fire engine belonging to the California Department of Forestry tipped over during the initial response, but three firefighters aboard were not injured.
The driver of the engine apparently got too close to the edge of the road to allow a car to go by when the accident occurred, said T.T. Uhrich, a spokesman with the California Highway Patrol.
Another blaze began about 7 a.m. near Moorpark, but fire officials later classified both fires as a single blaze known as the Shekell incident, although they were a couple of miles apart.
A third fire burned south of Camarillo and was expected to be contained at 30 acres, authorities said.
In Riverside County, firefighters gained control of a wildfire that burned 100 acres of hillside brush.
The fire, which began late Saturday near a high school in Norco, was fanned by strong winds and caused one minor injury to a firefighter.
The cause of all the fires was under investigation.