40-Acre Fire Chars Brush Near School

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A fast-moving brush fire swept across 40 acres near a hilly Thousand Oaks neighborhood Saturday but was contained by firefighters before it threatened any houses, county fire officials said.

Pushed by 20 m.p.h. winds, the fire consumed the grassy hillside behind La Reina High School off Janss Road. The cause was under investigation.

Six fire engines, a 3,000-gallon water truck and a hand crew of six firefighters fought the blaze, which broke out at 3:30 p.m. and was contained an hour later.

Several area residents watered down their roofs and back yard vegetation as the flames advanced. But the county's strict enforcement of rules for clearing weeds from areas around buildings kept the Catholic high school and 50 or so nearby houses out of danger, Battalion Chief Michael Estrada said.

"The homes would have been threatened if there had not been a weed-abatement program," Estrada said. "It really makes a difference. Everyone was in compliance."

Ventura County residents must clear a 100-foot brush-free buffer around structures on their property, fire officials said. The closest the fire came to any houses was about 100 yards, Estrada said.

That was close enough for some residents.

"It was right across the street," said Diann Rubins, who lives on June Court. Rubins, 31, said her family lost their Chatsworth home to fire in the late 1970s.

"I learned from that one," she said. "The house I have now has a tile roof on it."

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