LOCAL CALIFORNIA

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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A village saves a village, but it's unclear if Johnny Cash's hillside home survived its ring of fire

Residents hop a fence Tuesday to put out a spot fire along Highway 33 from the Thomas fire in Casita Springs in Ventura County. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Residents hop a fence Tuesday to put out a spot fire along Highway 33 from the Thomas fire in Casita Springs in Ventura County. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The man pulled on the garden hose and limped over to the front of his mobile home in Casitas Springs, as flames from the Thomas fire slowly made their way down from the top of the hillside. 

He glanced up and dropped the hose.

“Just in case,” he said. “I’m going to water the wooden fences.”

Earlier Tuesday evening, residents of the mobile home park in Casitas Springs had fought to keep their homes from burning down. They used hoses to water the roofs; one person tossed dirt at a burning fence and one man used his sweater to smother small flames.

“It takes a village to protect a village,” Alan Palacios, a resident of the neighborhood said. Without “spraying water over each other’s roofs and helping others, we wouldn’t have saved our homes.” 

Wearing a Mexican soccer team poncho, he said that with the winds calm, this side of the Thomas fire was no longer a threat. 

“The winds are gone,” he said. “Imagine if there were winds? Forget it.” 

Throughout the neighborhood, residents remained cautiously optimistic that the worst had passed. They stood outside their homes along Nye Road, staring at the flames creeping slowly toward the neighborhood. 

At one point, the flames had created their own ring of fire around the former hillside home of American singer-songwriter Johnny Cash. 

As of Tuesday night, it was unclear if the home was still standing.

On the driveway of her home, Joanne Ellis, 64, looked up at the flames. She said she was happy about the weather.

“If we just stay lucky and the winds keep calm, this fire may just burn itself out, down to just hot spots,” she said.

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