Multiple fires are raging in Southern California. A series of Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires have destroyed hundreds of structures, forced thousands to flee and smothered the region with smoke in what officials predicted would be a pitched battle for days.

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Firefighters worry that a change in the wind could push flames toward Ojai

Outline of the Ventura County fire. (Various emergency and safety agencies)
Outline of the Ventura County fire. (Various emergency and safety agencies)

Fire officials said Wednesday that the area they call Branch 4 — which includes the city of Ventura — is their highest priority, due to the “tremendous volume of fire” there.

If the wind turns, the area they’ve dubbed Branch 1, which includes Ojai, will be their priority. Firefighters are putting together a plan to protect Ojai and expressed concern that winds could push the flames toward the city. 

They reiterated a message spread Wednesday morning: The key is to put out even small bushes on fire along roads and extinguish the tiniest embers on the way to bigger blazes because “that’s how it’s spreading from house to house.” 

Branch 5 was a “tremendous challenge” Tuesday night, officials said during a late morning briefing, because the fire jumped the 101 Freeway and pushed toward the coast. Crews are working to add more fuel breaks in the area of Branch 1 in an effort to protect homes from the fire’s edge.

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