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California fires: Reagan Library threatened in Simi Valley as firefighters make progress in wine country

A large brush fire erupted in Simi Valley early Wednesday and was quickly burning toward neighborhoods, triggering mandatory evacuations amid strong Santa Ana winds

Firefighters in Southern California were battling a fast-moving brush fire that was threatening thousands of homes and the Ronald Reagan Library in Ventura County, while crews made progress against the Kincade fire that’s been burning for a week in Northern California’s wine country.

The Easy fire, which started near the 118 Freeway and Madera Road in Simi Valley shortly after 6 a.m., has chewed through 1,300 acres of dry, dense brush and is threatening 6,500 homes, Ventura County Fire Capt. Steve Kaufmann said.

The blaze is burning near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Thick smoke choked the hillside where the 125,000-square-foot complex — a repository of records and artifacts from the Reagan administration — is perched among dense brush. Flames burned all around the library but it has not been damaged, officials said.

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Amid wind gusts strong enough to knock a person off balance, tanker helicopters dropped their loads behind the library and two super-scooper planes unleashed such a volume of water it created its own rainbow.

The Easy fire was one of several burning in Southern California.

Despite extreme red flag warnings because of the powerful Santa Ana winds, firefighters were hoping to increase containment of the Getty fire in Brentwood.

The fire, which burned 12 homes Monday, was 27% contained and had scorched 745 acres as of Wednesday morning, officials said. About 7,000 homes remain evacuated.

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Meanwhile, in Northern California, firefighters were exerting more control over the massive Kincade fire , which grew slightly to 76,825 acres.

Containment of the fire doubled overnight to 30% as of Wednesday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“The eastern part of the fire was active overnight, but firefighters continued to make forward progress as a whole,” even amid another strong wind event (forecast to be the week’s last), Cal Fire said.

Tuesday night, winds reached 60 mph in high terrain and up to 30 mph in the valleys where the fire is burning, said Spencer Tangen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. By Wednesday morning, the winds had already begun to slow.
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