Another damn fire

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Sep 17, 2004
Moorpark, CA
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.


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Got some mates in the FD out around your way.

They were probably on the strike teams for it.

Nasty buggers to fight. Just hard work.

Glad everything is ok for you.
They were really howling in Orange County last night and morning.

Right now things are calm.

Weird how the weather can be so different within 60 miles.
Winds are still heavy with no let up expected before tomorrow afternoon. Up to 10,000 acres and still burning. The map below shows the area that is active. I am just below the 4, near where the road curves. My son's school is just above the 5, right in the middle of it. Schools in Moorpark are closed because of the fire. Gee, in my day, we had "snow days". I'm not used to "fire days"!


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Scary. Is this another arson fire, man-made stupidity or natural causes.

Hope all turns out okay. California seems to be getting quite the brunt if these things lately.
what a freaky mess ......... again ! Eric keep us posted and if need be get you and your familie that hey out of there, screw work just move quick. Will be praying that those winds settle down so the guys can gt4 the monster out ...... what a way to spend December Bbbblllllllllllllllllllttttttttttttttttttttt
Fortunately for me, it is moving west and away from us. My wife said it is clear by our house, which is funny because I work about 20 miles away and the smoke is blowing over here now! Smells like a campfire in the office. Rains are coming, so sayeth the weather-guesser. It will be helpful to get the fire out and give the firefighters a much needed help, as long as it isn't heavy.
Thanks guys. Fire is now 35% contained with winds dying down. It's not unusual for the winds to die down at this time of day to pick up again later. We will wait and see. No word on the cause yet, but rumors surround a power line sparking a tree in the winds. Wouldn't be surprising with the 80 MPH gusts we had saturday and sunday night. Looks like the winds were down enough in the afternoon for the fire support helos to go out from Camarillo. A couple of heavies left a couple of hours ago.
Our firefighters did an awesome job overnight to get to 80% containment. The winds stayed down and they are shooting for full containment by this afternoon. After witnessing what these guys went through with the winds, even watching the air support choppers and P-3s doing amazing flying in high gusts, I have a ton of respect for the job they do. We had 5 homes and one commercial building destroyed with the same amount damaged, which is amazing considering that at the height of the blaze, over 1,000 homes were threatened.

Firefighters everywhere, I salute you. :salute:

Here are some shots from the Ventura County Star that show how close it was for many people. Fire crews worked real hard to save a lot of homes.


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The closest it got was about 2 miles away, which is close enough for me. There are still quite a few hotspots around, including some burning still right near my sons schools. So no school again today for my son. But it looks so much better today.
Don't you wish the Martin MARS was there dropping water? I'd fly out
and join you for that!!!!

Happy to know things are settling out, though, Eric. How do you prevent
idiots from starting these things? You can't, sad to say.

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