California wildfire expected to gain strength as wind, heat ramp up
A brush fire that burned more than 10,000 acres in Ventura County is going to gain strength by 8 a.m. as the wind and morning sun begin to bake the hills and valleys, a weather expert said Friday morning.
The Springs fire, which started before 7 a.m. Thursday, is 10% contained and has burned from Camarillo south of the 101 Freeway all the way to the Pacific Coast Highway, leaving 15 damaged buildings and several motorhomes destroyed in its wake.
On Friday morning, winds continued to push the flames southwest as they did Thursday when single-digit humidity, temperatures in the high 90s and wind gusts of more than 40 mph fed the fire that consumed dry, decades-old brush.
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.
However, an ocean breeze is expected to hit the face of the fire by afternoon.
Ventura County fire spokesman Bill Nash said Thursday that an inland breeze will either push the flames into themselves, aiding 1,000 firefighters trying to contain it, or it could push the fire into unburned brush deeper in the mountains.
“This is burning in an area that hasn’t burned in over 20 years,” said Nick Shuler, a battalion chief with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “There’s very thick, dead vegetation in there.”
Hundreds of residents across several Ventura County communities have been forced to evacuate.
Mike Lindberry of the Ventura County County Fire Department said the blaze reminded him of the 1993 Green Meadow fire that started in Thousand Oaks, destroyed 23 homes and burned 44,000 acres.
Like that fire, the Springs Fire is threatening homes in the Deer Creek and Yerba Buena communities.
“That was the only place where we lost houses” during Green Meadow, Lindberry told The Times. “This fire has the potential to do that.”
Homes there are mixed in with the brush, making them the most difficult to protect.
Emergency crews are expected to restart their air attack on the fire Friday morning.
Firefighters spent the night cutting away brush from homes and creating containment lines to slow the fire’s spread.
Firefighters were using controlled burns late Thursday night to prevent flames from turning back toward homes in Ventura County.
Late Thursday, firefighters were igniting unburned brush along a jagged front in the Santa Monica Mountains south of Potrero Road, officials said.
The area was adjacent to a zone that had been scorched earlier in the day as the Springs fire was fanned by powerful Santa Ana winds.
Crews were also lighting backfires in the Dos Vientos area, hoping to make some headway before warm weather and high winds resume Friday.
“It’s hot, dirty, unglamorous work right now,” Nash told reporters.
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