California: Springs fire in Ventura County spreads rapidly near hundreds of homes

Map of Springs Fire

Map of the Springs Fire near Camarillo, California in Ventura County. The red line was the perimeter at 10:30 p.m. PT, May 3, 2013. The white line is from 24 hours previously, the evening of May 2. (click to enlarge)

(UPDATE May 13, 2013)

Just to finish things up, the fire was 100 percent contained several days ago. The final size was 24,251 acres.

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(UPDATE at 7:23 a.m. PT, May 6, 2013)

It is raining in the Los Angeles area this morning. Some of the weather stations near the fire have received about a quarter of an inch since Sunday night.

The incident commander of the Springs Fire is calling the fire 28,000 acres and 80 percent contained. They expect full containment on May 7.

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(UPDATE at 6:50 a.m. PT, May 5, 2013)

Firefighters are continuing to make progress on the Springs Fire near Camarillo northwest of Los Angeles. The Incident Commander is calling it 60 percent contained and 28,000 acres. CAL FIRE reports that all evacuations have been lifted, with full containment expected on May 6.

There is minimal fire activity. The remaining firefighters continue to construct control lines, mop up, and patrol the fire perimeter. There is an increase in demobilization of firefighting resources.

Potrero Road is closed between Reino Road and Hidden Valley. Residents may return to their homes with proper identification. Residents are encouraged to access Hidden Valley from West Lake Boulevard.

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(UPDATE at 7:10 a.m. PT, May 4, 2012)

The weather that caused the Springs Fire to spread rapidly over tens of thousands of acres has moderated significantly with much higher relative humidites and lower wind speeds. By late Friday night there was much less activity on the fire than earlier in the day. At 7 a.m. Saturday morning the winds over most of the fire varied from zero to 5 mph with humidities ranging from 30 to 74 percent, a drastic change from 30+ mph and 3 percent.

During the day on Friday the fire spread east across Point Mugu State Park coming up to the edge of Hidden Valley, an area with many huge mega-mansions.

With the latest map, updated at 10:30 p.m. Friday (shown above), fire managers will probably fine tune yesterday’s estimate of 28,000 acres, most likely reducing it by several thousand. The incident commander is calling it 30 percent contained.

CAL FIRE reports that 25 outbuildings have been destroyed, and there are 15 damaged residences, 5 damaged commercial properties, and 15 damaged outbuildings. They also said the Pacific Coast Highway has “reopened but with closures at Deer Creek Road, Potrero Road, Reino Road, and Yerba Buena Road”.

The resources assigned to the fire include 1,895 personnel, 55 engines, 48 hand crews, 6 air tankers, and 11 helicopters.

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(UPDATE at 6:40 p.m. PT, May 3, 2013)

The Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) is now estimating that the Springs Fire northwest of Los Angeles has burned 28,000 acres and is 20 percent contained.

At 5:15 p.m. they issued a correction of their earlier announcement. The Pacific Coast Highway has not reopened, due to possible rock slides.

CAL FIRE identified the following evacuations at 6:15 p.m. PT:

  • Mandatory evacuations effective immediately: South Newbury Park area, South of Potrero Road from Reino Road East to 930 West Potrero Road including Hidden Valley Road South.
  • Evacuations remain in effect for Potrero Road to Lewis Road, Yerea Buena Road and Deer Creek Road, Sycamore Canyon, Brrome Ranch and La Jolla Canyon.
  • Evacuations for the Cal State Channel Islands and Dos Vientos area have been lifted and reopened to residents only.

There has been no change in the reported number of structures damaged according to CAL FIRE: 15 damaged residences, 5 damaged commercial properties, and 15 damaged outbuildings.

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(UPDATE at 5:10 p.m. PT, May 3, 2013)

According to the Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD), the the Springs fire that started in Camarillo Springs northwest of Los Angeles, “is now being called 18,000 acres and 20% containment”.

The Pacific Coast Highway will reopen to traffic in both directions at 5:00 p.m. Many cross streets, however, will remain closed. Motorists are advised to drive carefully and watch out for emergency vehicles that may still be in the area.

For current information about evacuations, visit the VCFD web site. Additional road closures and evacuations were announced Friday afternoon.

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(UPDATE at 2:15 p.m. PT, May 3, 2013)

The Springs fire that started in Camarillo Springs northwest of Los Angeles continued to burn very actively overnight fanned by strong northeast winds. It progressed southwest all the way to the Pacific Ocean, about nine miles from the point of origin.

The map of the fire above shows the location of the fire detected by two different sources:

  1. The red and yellow squares represent the approximate location of heat detected by a satellite hundreds of miles above the Earth at 11:50 a.m. PT, May 3, 2013.
  2. The white line is the fire perimeter drawn by an Infrared Analyst who studied infrared data collected by a U.S. Forest Service fixed wing aircraft at 7 p.m. (PT or MT) Thursday evening, May 2. It should be much more accurate than the satellite data, but it is also about 17 hours older than the satellite information. The fire continued to spread after the fixed wing flight.

The Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) reports that the fire has burned 10,000 acres with 10 percent containment, but that acreage figure is likely to increase substantially when they get a chance for more accurate mapping after sunrise. Firefighters spent the night protecting homes and cutting containment lines with hand tools and bulldozers. The air attack is scheduled to resume in the morning.

The VCFD said 2,000 homes have been threatened and 15 sustained damage, but none were destroyed.

CAL FIRE reports damage to 15 residences, 5 commercial properties, and 15 outbuildings. In addition they said 4,000 residences and 300 commercial properties are threatened.

The Pacific Coast Highway remains closed. For current evacuation information visit the Ventura County Fire Department web site.

The Red Flag Warning is still in effect until 5 p.m. on Friday, but the winds overnight at the nearby Cheeseboro weather station decreased substantially, from  25-30 mph with gusts to 45-50 mph on Thursday, to south-southeast at 8 mph with gusts to 14 mph at 1:38 p.m. PT Friday. The relative humidity remains extremely low, at 3 percent. The weather forecast for Friday calls for 18 mph winds with gusts to 25, decreasing at 11 a.m. to 10 mph with gusts to 16. The wind direction will change at 11 a.m. from northeast to southwest, a 180-degree switch, which could create problems for firefighters.

Resources on the fire include 925 personnel, 90 engines, 20 hand crews, 6 air tankers, and 8 helicopters.

DC-10 air tanker

DC-10 air tanker at Rapid City, April 23, 2013. Photo by Bill Gabbert

One of the DC-10 Very Large Air Tankers has been activated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, CAL FIRE. Rick Hatton, President of 10 Tanker Air Carrier, the company that operates the two DC-10 air tankers, confirmed for us today that it will come on duty tomorrow, May 4. He said most likely the one they will use will be Tanker 910, the aircraft that visited four cities last week on the way back from scheduled maintenance in Michigan.

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(UPDATE at 8:22 p.m. PT, May 2, 2013)

Information about the Springs Fire, from Ventura County Fire Department, current as of 7:52 p.m. PT:

  • 8,000 acres
  • 10% contained
  • 2,000 homes have been threatend, 15 sustained damage, none were destroyed.
  • 925 personnel are now committed to the fire.
  • Road Closures, PCH between Las Posas and Yerba Buena, Yerba Buena Rd., Deer Creek Rd.
  • Mandatory evacuations in: Sycamore Canyon, La Jolla Canyon and Brrome Ranch.
  • Dos Vientos: residents with ID are being allowed in.

The map below was copied from the web site of the Ventura County Fire Department at 8:35 p.m PT, May 2, 2013. There is no legend, but it likely that red line is the fire perimeter and the blue line is the evacuation area — but that is not certain.

Map of Springs Fire

Map of Springs Fire May 2, 2013, Credit Ventura Co FD (click to enlarge)

Springs Fire

Springs Fire at 7:18 p.m. PT, May 2, 2013, screen grab from LA NBC4

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(UPDATE at 6:22 p.m. PT, May 2, 2013)

The Ventura County Fire Department reports the fire has burned at least 6,500 acres and there is zero containment.

At 4:47 p.m. PT a smoke advisory was issued for the smoke coming from burning agricultural buildings near Cal State Channel Islands. That area is currently under evacuation orders. Anyone still in the area should evacuate and make all efforts to avoid the smoke.

AT 2:32 p.m. PT there were nearly 600 fire and law enforcement personnel assigned to the Springs Fire that started near Camarillo Springs this morning. There were 96 fire engines, six helicopters, five dozers and dozens of hand crews on the fire. Firefighters have responded from the VCFD in addition to firefighters from Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Paula, Naval Base Ventura County, Cal Fire, Orange County, Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles. Law enforcement partners include the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and the CHP.

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(UPDATE at 2:14 p.m. PT, May 2, 2013)

Below is a map showing the approximate locations of heat detected by a satellite that overflew the Springs Fire at 11:15 a.m. PT today.

Map of the Springs Fire

Map of the Springs Fire, showing heat detected by a satellite at 11:15 a.m. PT, May 2, 2013 (click to enlarge)

The Ventura County Fire Department also has a map of the fire perimeter. Due to very heavy use, that site may be very slow to load at times.

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(UPDATE at 12:50 p.m. PT, May 2, 2013)

The Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) reported at 12:38 p.m. PT that the estimated size of the Springs fire in Ventura County in the Thousand Oaks area northwest of Los Angeles is 6,500 acres. They also said the fixed wing air tankers have been grounded due to weather [presumably strong winds] but three helicopters are still able to work the fire. More than 500 firefighters are either on scene or en route.

Fox TV is reporting that a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway is closed, but the 101 Freeway is open.

The winds remain strong, at 25-30 mph with gusts to 45 and 50 mph. The relative humidity at the Cheeseboro weather station has dropped even lower, to 2 percent.

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(UPDATE at 10:57 a.m. PT, May 2, 2013)

Official evacuation information can be found at the Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) web site, but it is being hammered by huge numbers of visitors and may be very slow to load.

Bill Nash of the VCFD said on Fox 11 at 10:52 a.m. PT that the following areas are being evacuated: the entire community of Camerillo Springs, Cal State University Channel Islands, Dos Ventos (in Newbury Park), and the area south of Potrero Road all the way to the Pacific Coast Highway.

At 10:38 a.m. PT the Cheeseboro weather station about 10 miles east of the fire recorded northeast winds of 24 mph gusting to 45 mph, along with a relative humidity of an incredibly low 3 percent. The temperature was 80 degrees.

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(UPDATE at 10:44 a.m. PT, May 2, 2013)

Below are some recent images of the fire, screen grabs from live streaming television:

Springs Fire

Springs Fire at 10:43 a.m. PT, May 2, 2013 ABC7 screen grab

Springs Fire

Springs Fire at 10:15 a.m. PT, May 2, 2013 ABC7 screen grab

Springs Fire

Springs Fire at 10:14 a.m. PT, May 2, 2013 ABC7 screen grab

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(UPDATED at 9:58 a.m. PT, May 2, 2013)

The first mandatory evacuations, for residents in the Dos Vientos area, have been ordered, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. More information about evacuations.

Springs Fire, Ventura County

Springs Fire at 10:03 a.m. PT, May 2, 2013 Screen grab from CBS LA

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(Originally published at 9:30 a.m. PT, May 2, 2013; updated at 9:52 a.m.)

A new fire in southern California that is pushed by strong Santa Ana winds is burning near hundreds of homes in Ventura County in the Thousand Oaks area northwest of Los Angeles. Named the Springs Fire, it started near the Camarillo Springs golf course (map) and rapidly grew to hundreds of acres close to the 101 Freeway.

As of 9:15 a.m. PT the fire departments had not ordered any areas to evacuate.

The reporter in the Fox TV helicopter over the fire said the air tankers are having to fly to Hemet in order to reload, resulting in a fairly long load-and-return time. Occasionally the CBS TV station in Los Angeles also has live video. (UPDATE at 11:44 a.m. PT, May 2: Matt left a comment saying: “Bill the tankers are using Fox Tanker Base as the reload. Tankers 73 and 76 did come from Hemet this morning.” This makes more sense than reloading at Hemet.

The weather in the fire area is very conducive to rapid fire spread. At 9:38 a.m. PT the Cheeseboro weather station about 10 miles east of the fire recorded 25 mph winds gusting to 53 mph, along with a relative humidity of an incredibly low 3 percent. Strong winds and a Red Flag Warning are expected to continue until late Friday afternoon.

Cheeseboro weather observations

We will update this article as new information is available.

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of WildfireToday.com and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

2 thoughts on “California: Springs fire in Ventura County spreads rapidly near hundreds of homes

  1. Bill the tankers are using Fox Tanker Base as the reload. Tankers 73 and 76 did come from Hemet this morning.

  2. MAFFS sitting 5 Miles away at NAS PT Mugu and you cann’t use them. sounds like Colorado.

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