California wildfire: Firefighters defend naval base at Point Mugu

As the Springs fire hopped past the Pacific Coast Highway on Friday and burned toward the Los Angeles County line, it also crept closer toward the naval base at Point Mugu.

A spokeswoman for the Naval Base Ventura County said some brush and wooden structures were burning Friday morning at a range on the far western point of the base. Ventura County fire officials said they were preparing to handle the flareup, which was in a marshy area.

The fire reached the swampy spot Thursday night, fire officials said, but mostly burned itself out.

“If it burns south from there, it hits ocean,” said Bill Nash, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department. “The only concern would be for burning farther into the base.”

Firefighters focused their efforts Thursday night on protecting area homes and a $1-billion, Navy-operated communications center atop Laguna Peak on Thursday night, Ventura County fire spokeswoman Lori Ross said.


Flames burned all around the Laguna Communications Center, which overlooks the Oxnard Plain, but did not reach the facility, she said.

More than 1,000 firefighters were attacking the Springs fire, which has burned 10,000 acres and forced evacuations from Camarillo south of the 101 Freeway to the coast after it flared Wednesday morning. The cost of the firefight has reached $1.6 million, officials said, but was still growing.

The latest update from officials pegged the blaze at 10% contained. About 4,000 homes have been threatened, with 15 reportedly damaged. No injuries have been reported.

The Ventura County Air Pollution Control District issued an air quality advisory Friday warning the “smoke and ash from wildfires is considered to be unhealthy in and downwind of the wildfires.” Residents in affected areas were advised to remain indoors as much as possible, keep windows and doors closed, and avoid “vigorous outdoor or indoor exertion.”

Anyone seeking additional information about evacuations or road closures can call a Springs fire hotline at (805) 388-4276.

As the fire continued Friday, officials kept an eye on the weather forecast. On Thursday, single-digit humidity, temperatures in the high 90s and wind gusts of more than 40 mph fed the blaze as it ate up dry, decades-old brush.

Forecasters said the winds will not be as strong Friday, but other conditions are similar. The humidity near the fire has dropped from 58% to 28% in an hour and is expected to be under 10% in the next few hours, said National Weather Service meteorologist Curt Kaplan.

Temperatures will climb into the 90s while wind gusts of up to 30 mph will continue to feed the flames, he said.

An ocean breeze is expected to hit the face of the fire by afternoon.

Nash said Thursday that an inland breeze will either push the flames into themselves, aiding firefighters, or perhaps push the fire into unburned brush deeper in the mountains.

A Friday morning update at an incident command center warned that with high temperatures, high winds and low humidity, “There is potential for significant fire growth.” The advisory said the fire was burning in steep terrain, and threatened transmission lines, agricultural areas and other structures along the Pacific Coast Highway.


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