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California wildfire: Investigators search for cause, origin point

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Investigators are interviewing witnesses and residents in Camarillo Springs to try to determine the cause of a wildfire that’s scorched through more than 10,000 acres and threatened more than 4,000 homes, officials said Friday.

Authorities have narrowed their search for the origin of the Springs fire to an area south of the 101 Freeway near Camarillo Springs Road.

“There are a number of things that can start it there,” said Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash. The fire started somewhere near the Camarillo Springs community, a pocket of homes, a golf course and small stores at the end of the mountain range before the land opens up into a valley edged with farms.

Firefighters said Thursday the blaze burned through the hills between Camarillo Springs to the west and Newbury Park to the east.

Since it ignited Thursday morning before 7 a.m., the blaze has cost more than $1.6 million to fight and pulled in more than 1,000 firefighters trying to put it out. Several structures have been damaged and a number of RVs parked at the edge of the mountains were destroyed.

The heat, dry air and Santa Ana winds pushed the flames southwest, deeper into the mountainous landscape until it reached the coast Friday morning. The fire jumped Pacific Coast Highway and is threatening the Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu.

Firefighters are planning on making a stand against the blaze at State Route 23, Decker Canyon Road, officials said Friday morning.

The head of the blaze is between Deer Creek and Yerba Buena roads, Nash said. Searching for a stategic advantage against the flames, firefighters picked the ridge line at Decker Canyon Road to try to establish a barrier, Nash said.

By noon on Friday, a shift in the wind quickly limited the visibility for firefighters.

Television footage from media helicopters shows huge walls of flames climbing a hillside and approaching at least two homes.

Nick Shuler, a battalion chief with Cal Fire out of San Diego, said embers from the fire have blown across Pacific Coast Highway and ignited vegetation on the south side of the highway, threatening the far western point of the naval base, where a Seabee station is located, and scorching plants and trees.

Thick plumes of black smoke are hovering over the mountains and providing a new challenge for firefighters. In neighborhoods near the fire line, ash dropped on car windshields as the sky turned dark.

It’s unclear if the limited visibility will ground more than a dozen aircraft helping firefighters battle the blaze, he said.

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Joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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