Brush fire ignites amid high winds in Ventura County, spurring evacuation warnings

A brush fire burns, giving off a lot of smoke
Ventura County firefighters are battling the Cornell fire, which broke out Monday in Santa Paula.

Ventura County firefighters were battling a brush fire Monday afternoon in Santa Paula.

The fire ignited shortly before noon on Monday in a river bottom behind Santa Paula Airport, according to Capt. Brian McGrath of the Ventura County Fire Department. By 9 p.m., it was holding at just over 170 acres and was mostly contained to the river bottom.

“The wind gusts are significant out there, and there’s some pretty decent-size mulch,” McGrath said.

Approximately 100 firefighters were attacking the blaze, which has been dubbed the Cornell fire, McGrath said.


An evacuation warning was issued for the area surrounding Todd and Shell roads, according to the county’s emergency information site. Residents can check the live map to see whether their area has been affected.

Highway 126, which had been closed in both directions at Briggs Road, was open by about 9 p.m. South Mountain Road was also reopened to residents.

The fire ignited when a large tree fell onto a power line, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. The blaze comes amid extreme fire weather conditions and red flag warnings from the National Weather Service, which said the river bottom was experiencing gusts as high as 35 mph.

Portions of the county, including several areas near the fire, are also facing an imminent public safety power shutoff, according to the county’s map.

More than 20,000 Southern California Edison customers in Ventura County are already without power, and about 21,000 more are under consideration for a shutoff, Edison said.