Fire burns portions of Casitas Springs

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Photo by Brian Aikens

Fire burns up a hillside in Casitas Springs.

Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News reporter

More than 200 firefighters battled a fast-moving, wind-driven brushfire that broke out in the Casitas Springs area Oct. 24.
The fire consumed 87 acres, but no structures were destroyed.
Dubbed the Vista Fire, the blaze was reported at 2:46 p.m. on a hillside east of Highway 33 and north of Casitas Vista Road.
It was quickly upgraded with a second alarm.
Fueled by erratic winds, extremely dry vegetation and high temperatures, the flames raced uphill toward Casitas Springs.
The fire jumped the highway and briefly threatened the Southern California Edison substation.

VCFD reported the fire also was burning in the Ventura River bottom.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reported dozens of onlookers watching the fire's progress from Santa Ana Road.
The blaze forced the closure of Highway 33 through Casitas Springs for approximately nine hours, with intermittent closures throughout the day Oct. 25 as firefighters worked on cleanup.
Traffic was diverted around the fire using Santa Ana Road.
All road closures have since been lifted.
Ventura County Fire Department officials said they were ready for such a blaze.
“We were anticipating the weather and we were prepared for a fire like this,” said VCFD Capt. Stan Ziegler.
The National Weather Service had a red flag warning and an excessive heat warning posted at the time the fire broke out.
“We had a lot of extra personnel and equipment staged, including a full strike team from the county and another from Cal Fire, two rotary aircraft and two fixed-wing air tankers.”
VCFD reported that a travel trailer on Edison property was damaged.
A small, related fire was reported Oct. 25 at 7:30 a.m. at a home in the 8000 block of Park View Drive in Casitas Springs, but it was contained to an exterior staircase.
Two firefighters were injured battling the Vista Fire — one suffered smoke inhalation and the other multiple yellow jacket stings — but no other injuries were reported.
Firefighters stayed on scene during the overnight hours from Oct. 24 through Oct. 25 to put out any interior hot spots within the fire perimeter.
VCFD Division Chief John McNeil estimated that 50,000 to 60,000 gallons of water were used in the initial attack on the fire.
Roughly 18,000 gallons were dropped by helicopters that scooped water out of Lake Casitas, he said.
A large water-dropping helicopter made 15 drops, while a smaller one made 37 drops.
Full containment on the fire was expected by 8 p.m. Oct. 26.
VCFD advised motorists to use caution when driving through Casitas Springs due to fire equipment and apparatus working in the area.
It also warned of hazards posed by burned trees that may fall or drop their limbs.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.Ojai Valley News video by Andra Belknap


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