Firefighters battling flames in Ventura and Kern counties enjoyed a brief reprieve from the wind Wednesday night that officials said helped the blaze spread quickly earlier in the day.
“The fire did die down a lot last night,” said Sean Collins, spokesman for the Kern County Fire Department. “We did have some active pockets, but I think it’s being held within the original line from yesterday.”
Hundreds of firefighters were battling the brush fire, which burned more than 3,000 acres after starting in Kern County near the Grapevine.
Working with bulldozers, crews overnight scrambled to pile dirt along forest roads and mountain ridges and clear brush in the fire’s path, Collins said.
The most active front of the fire was in Ventura County, where flames had spread and were burning through brush and grass in the Los Padres National Forest, fire officials said.
The blaze was 10% contained and about 600 firefighters were working overnight, Collins said.
In Los Angeles County, deputies were dispatched to the Gorman area Wednesday night in case a shift in the winds pushed flames toward residential areas and evacuations were needed, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.
"We have personnel standing by in the off chance the winds shift and something happens," Lt. John Rush of the Santa Clarita sheriff's station told The Times. "We're ready to mobilize."
Winds were forecast to be between 15 and 20 mph Thursday and temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s in Frazier Park and Los Padres National Forest, according to the National Weather Service.
Fire officials earlier had believed that the blaze had crossed into Los Angeles County. But late Wednesday, the L.A. County Fire Department said the fire was burning close to the county line but had not crossed it.
The fire broke out around 1:20 p.m. near Frazier Mountain Park Road and Grand Terrace Drive, not far from Frazier Park, an unincorporated mountain village in Kern County.
“The wind was pushing it from bush to bush to bush,” Collins said. “It was pushing pretty hard.”
Seven air tankers and four water-dropping helicopters repeatedly attacked the blaze Wednesday evening as firefighters from several agencies worked to contain flames and protect structures, fire officials said.
As walls of flame quickly spread, mandatory evacuations were ordered for Hungry Valley State Park and Piru Creek Campground.
Deputies swooped down on Frazier Mountain High School to evacuate the campus, but students had already left for the day, said Lt. Dana Albro of the Kern County Sheriff's Department.
One witness told The Times that flames raged close to the campus football field as thick clouds of smoke billowed into the air.
"The flames were huge.… It was horrible," said Rebecca Crowe, 14, a middle school student who was headed to her home in Frazier Park as she passed the campus Wednesday afternoon.
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