3 Brush Fires Char 18 Acres; No One Hurt

Firefighters in Ventura County battled three brush fires Saturday, the largest of which burned approximately 10 acres of cactus and grass near Camarillo State Hospital. There were no injuries and no damage to structures, authorities said.

The first fire was reported in Simi Valley about 12:30 p.m. in a field close to the Simi Valley Freeway near the intersection of Ardenwood and Belhaven avenues. It grew to more than three acres before it was extinguished about 1:15 p.m., county fire dispatcher Vicki Crabtree said.

The second fire began about 2:23 p.m. on the grounds of Camarillo State Hospital near a building that houses employees. Ten engines, two bulldozers, one helicopter and three hand crews were called to battle the blaze, which was almost fully contained by 4 p.m.

A discarded cigarette sparked the third fire, which charred about 4 1/2 acres of brush in the Ventura River bed north of the Main Street bridge, said Wayne Belitski, battalion chief with the Ventura Fire Department.

Flames came within 30 feet of several homeless camps in the river bottom, but no property was lost.

Four engines responded to the fire, which was reported at 3:07 p.m. Most of the equipment was recalled at 6 p.m.

Belitski said the fires could be a sign of things to come: "The weather's hot, grass is drying up, and we've had a lot of rain this year. We're anticipating a very, very large fire season."

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