Firefighters Battle Blazes in Sonoma and Ventura Counties

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Wind-driven blazes scorched about 2,000 acres of brush- and timber-covered hills Sunday in rural Sonoma County and at least 700 acres in the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County.

The Sonoma County fire was burning out of control in a sparsely inhabited area about 13 miles east of Cloverdale, about 95 miles north of San Francisco.

State authorities said 300 firefighters were at the scene, but several air tanker crews were pulled out of the area and diverted to battle the destructive inferno in the Oakland hills.

State Department of Forestry officials said no structures had been damaged in the fire, which was reported at 6:30 a.m. Early morning winds gusting up to 50 m.p.h. fanned the blaze, officials said.

Meanwhile, more than 400 firefighters from three counties struggled with heat and steep terrain to cut lines around the Los Padres National Forest blaze. The wildfire started about 1 p.m. near a campground south of Sespe Creek, a National Forestry Service official said. It was reported by campers.

The blaze raced through several structures on a ranch, but by late afternoon it had not destroyed any major buildings, fire officials said. Fire crews evacuated five campgrounds, including a Boy Scout camp called the Circle B Ranch, near the vicinity of the fire.

Forestry spokesman Maeton Freel said firefighters were hindered by temperatures of 85 to 90 degrees and rugged, steep hillsides.

"It's fairly steep country, so it makes slow-going for the hand crews," Freel said. Fortunately, winds of about 10 m.p.h. did little to fan the blaze, he said.

Forestry officials said they expected the fire to consume about 1,00 acres by this morning. There were no reports of injuries in either blaze.

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