Fire crews in California use controlled burns to protect homes

May 3, 2013 at 4:22 PM
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LOS ANGELES, May 3 (UPI) -- Winds shifted Friday, limiting firefighters' ability to battle a blaze that has burned at least 10,000 acres in California's Ventura County, officials said.

Firefighters used controlled burns Thursday to prevent flames from shifting toward homes in the area, but a shift in winds Friday restricted fire crews' visibility, and sparks from the Springs fire have jumped Pacific Coast Highway -- setting fire to vegetation across the highway and threatening the Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu, the Los Angeles Times reported. Base officials ordered an evacuation for some residents, the reports said.

Fire officials said Thursday they were concerned winds from the west would push the Springs fire toward homes in the Newbury Park area, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The fire has burned at least 10,000 acres since it erupted Thursday morning near Camarillo Springs, damaging at least 15 homes and threatening another 2,000, the Ventura County Fire Department said.

Firefighters evacuated 120 children and 30 adults from a camp site.

Forecasters said winds could gust to as much as 35 mph before diminishing Friday in the area where the Springs fire burned. However, decreasing humidity is combining with temperatures in the upper 90s to help the flames spread through dry vegetation.

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

"Gusty Santa Ana winds will continue to bring extreme fire danger to the area through Friday," the National Weather Service said. "Warnings are in effect for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties through Friday afternoon where there will continue to be a threat of rapid wildfire spread."

The Springs fire was one of two in the Los Angeles area. Fire officials said a fire in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, had consumed more than 2,950 acres.

State fire officials said the spread of that blaze seemed to have slowed and the fire was about 40 percent contained.

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