News from around the Ojai Valley

FRIDAY, Nov. 1, 3:30 p.m.: Maria Fire results in 8,000 evacuations, threatens 2,300 structures, involves nearly 9,000 acres

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Photo by VCInFocus

A fixed-wing aircraft dumps Phos-chek fire retardant on the Maria Fire Friday afternoon.

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Ojai Valley News photo

Smoke on South Mountain from Santa Maria Fire Friday afternoon.

 

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VCemergency.com map showing perimiter of Maria Fire on Friday afternoon. 

 

More than 500 firefighters are fighting the Maria Fire that broke out at the top of South Mountain Road between Santa Paula and Somis Thursday night about 6:13. Some were staging Friday afternoon on Highway 126.

Mandatory evacuations for the area south of Highway 126 from 12th Street to Wells Road on the eastern limit of the city of Ventura were ordered about noon Friday. Residents of Rancho Santa Paula, and Anacapa mobile home parks, both on Santa Maria Street, just north of Highway 126 on the city of Santa Paula side, were evacuated shortly before 1 p.m. Friday.

The firefight has been “an uphill battle,” said Ventura County Fire Department Chief Mark Lorenzen at a noon press conference Friday at Camarillo’s Fire Station 50. 

He reported that 8,000 people have been evacuated and 2,300 structures are threatened by the nearly 9,000-acre fire as of noon Friday. 

John McNeil of Ojai, assistant chief of VCFD Office of Emergency Services, said a CalFire incident team is coming into Ventura County on Friday at 6 p.m. to provide additional firepower.

McNeil said the fire as of noon Friday was burning back down South Mountain and that the fire had damaged communication towers for county government services. He said the fire was also backing down the Saticoy side.

McNeil said wind shifts are a challenge, especially in the river bottom, and that firefighters are protecting structures, oil fields and agriculture properties.

A barn near Anacapa Mobile Home Park, at 720 W. Santa Maria St., caught fire shortly before the 79 units in the park were evacuated, said Anacapa Mobile Home Park Manager Della Roche about 1:30 p.m. She said police officers knocked on every door in the mobile home park to alert the residents as embers from the barn fire came toward the mobile-home park.

Fifty sheriff’s deputies are assisting with evacuation, according to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub.

Mandatory evacuation areas are listed on the www.vcemergency.com web site.

The areas in the mandatory evacuation zone as of 3:30 p.m. are:

North boundary: South Mountain Road.

West boundary: West Los Angeles Avenue.

East boundary: Balcom Canyon Road.

South boundary: Highway 118.

Specifically for Santa Paula, the evacuation boundaries are:

North boundary: Highway 126.

West boundary: East of Campanula Avenue.

East boundary: South 12th Street/ South Mountain Road.

South boundary: Santa Clara River.

A shelter for people is the Camarillo Community Center, 1605 Burnley St., Camarillo.

Animals of all sizes can be taken to the Humane Society of Ventura County in Ojai, 402 Bryant St.; the Ventura County Fairgrounds (large animals), 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura; and the Earl Warren Showgrounds for large animals, 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara.

Todd Road Jail on the western edge of Santa Paula is near the evacuation zone, but the 1,700 inmates there are sheltering in place, according to Ayub.

The sheriff warned that small drones in the area are illegal and on Thursday a drone had grounded helicopters dumping water on the fire.

A representative of the National Weather Service said that when the fire began Thursday, winds were 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 35 mph. He said low humidities of 4 to 8% are forecast into Friday afternoon with northeasterly winds 5 to 10 mph.

He said warm temperatures are forecast for Saturday and that red-flag warning will stay in effect through Saturday at 6 pm.

Air-quality alerts related to smoke and ash have been issued by the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District. N95 breathing masks are being distributed free throughout the county, with distribution sites listed on www.vcemergency.com.

Road closures are also listed on the emergency website.