Ven­tura County un­der siege from fire clos­ing High­way 101

The Fresno Bee - - Stay Connected - BY JOSEPH SERNA AND BEN­JAMIN ORESKES

Por­tions of Ven­tura County were un­der siege Thurs­day af­ter­noon as a mas­sive fire de­scended on neigh­bor­hoods, threat­en­ing nu­mer­ous com­mu­ni­ties.

The Hill Fire was be­ing whipped by pow­er­ful Santa Ana winds that pushed it through canyons and to the edge of Camarillo Springs and Cal State Chan­nel Is­lands, both of which were evac­u­ated.

The fire, as well as a smaller one that broke out to the east near Box Canyon, cre­ated chaotic con­di­tions in an area that less than 24 hours ear­lier was dev­as­tated by a mass shoot­ing that left 13 peo­ple dead.

Au­thor­i­ties have shut down U.S. 101 in both direc­tions at Camarillo Springs Road, forc­ing some mo­torists to drive down the wrong side of the free­way to avoid the fire.

The blaze, which be­gan about 2 p.m., raced across as much as 10,000 acres in less than two hours and prompted the evac­u­a­tion of a wa­ter treat­ment plant and hik­ing tri­als, of­fi­cials said Thurs­day af­ter­noon. A nearby trailer park also was be­ing evac­u­ated.

The fire broke out in Hill Canyon off Santa Rosa Road near New­bury Park, ac­cord­ing to the Ven­tura County Fire De­part­ment. It’s burn­ing in the foot­print of the Springs Fire that scorched more than 24,000 acres a few years ago, said Ven­tura County Fire Capt. Brian McGrath.

“The wind is def­i­nitely push­ing this thing to­ward the ocean just like the Springs fire a few years ago,” he said. “It’s very fast.”

Fire­fight­ers were at­tempt­ing to at­tack it by air be­cause steep ter­rain has made the burn area in­ac­ces­si­ble.

Fire Capt. Stan Ziegler said there were sus­tained winds of ap­prox­i­mately 30-35 mph with gusts of 40 mph.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice is­sued a red flag fire warn­ing that went into ef­fect Thurs­day morn­ing, sig­nal­ing pos­si­ble fire dan­ger across Ven­tura, Los An­ge­les and Or­ange coun­ties through Fri­day night.

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