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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Ventura fire

North of Ojai, residents return to destruction, loss

Fire crews work to put out flames on North Rice Road in Ojai. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Fire crews work to put out flames on North Rice Road in Ojai. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Along Highway 33, about 3 miles north of Ojai, some residents who fled late Wednesday returned Thursday morning to find their homes in ruins.

One relative of a homeowner, who declined to be identified, said her mother in law was ordered to evacuate her three-bedroom home off Camino Cielo and the Maricopa Highway. She returned to find a heap of smoldering rubble. Her family members said they were working to restore a water pump so that they could douse hot spots and soak the embers.

Other homes off Highway 33 were spared. A ranch atop a ridge at Cozy Ojai Road stood virtually untouched, with a yellow Post-It on the front door for firefighters and first responders: “we evacuated!”

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