Maria Fire east of Ventura remapped at 9,412 acres

The fire started 13 minutes after SCE re-energized power lines near the point of origin

Map of the Maria Fire
Map of the Maria Fire. All evacuations have been lifted. The pink line and green lines are where evacuations have been lifted. Source: Ventura County at 6:20 a.m. PDT Nov. 2, 2019.

UPDATED at 6:35 p.m. PDT November 2, 2019

The Ventura County Fire Department announced at 2:39 p.m. Saturday that all evacuation orders on the Maria Fire have been lifted.

More accurate mapping determined that the fire has burned 9,412 acres, which is a decrease from the 10,720-acre figure released earlier.

The number of structures burned has remained at three. That has not been broken down as to the type, such as outbuildings, homes, or commercial structures.

Saturday morning there were still 1,200 personnel assigned to the fire.

UPDATED at 7:37 a.m. PDT November 2, 2019

Friday afternoon the Maria Fire east of Ventura, California grew by another 2,000 acres on the west and north sides. The Ventura County Fire Department said a total of 10,720 acres have burned.

As the fire moved north into the Santa Clara river bottom on Friday live views from cameras on helicopters showed several structures burning, some of which appeared to be affiliated with ranching or farming. Horses freed by ranch hands were running from the fire.

The UPI reports that the fire, which started near mountaintop communication sites, may have been related to re-energized power lines.

Southern California Edison said that though it’s not sure what caused the Maria Fire, the company did re-energize its power lines in the vicinity about 13 minutes before it sparked. The company had previously cut off power to the area amid strong winds.

(Scroll down to see a tweet that has a photo of the fire shortly after it started.)

SCE power lines caused the huge fire across the valley from the Maria Fire, the Thomas Fire that in December, 2017 blackened 230,500 acres and destroyed 1,063 structures (see the map below). Two people were killed directly by the Thomas fire, one firefighter and a civilian, and 21 were killed later by flooding and mud flows off the vegetation-free mountains. Over 8,500 firefighters were mobilized to fight it, which is the largest mobilization of firefighters for combating any wildfire in California history. The cost of suppressing the fire was over $200 million.

Drones over the fire Friday at 3:19 a.m. and 4:05 a.m. shut down the water dropping activities of two night-flying helicopters, the LA Times reported. According to @VCscanner, Air Attack 51 reported one of the drones at about 3,000 feet, resulting in all firefighting aircraft having to shut down.

The Red Flag Warning has been extended through 6 p.m. Saturday due to very dry air with humidity levels from 2 to 8 percent, recovering only to 8 to 18 percent overnight. Daytime highs on Saturday and Sunday in the fire area are expected to be between 77 and 85 degrees. Northeast winds will persist through Saturday, with the Ventura County Mountains and Valleys experiencing 10-25 mph winds and gusts of 25-35 mph. Weaker but still present offshore winds will be present Saturday night through Sunday.

Red Flag Warnings, November 2, 2019
Red Flag Warnings November 2, 2019 include the Maria Fire area. NWS

UPDATED at 12:15 p.m. PDT Nov. 1, 2019

The wind on the north side of the Maria Fire has shifted. Instead of coming from the northeast it is now from the east at 10 mph gusting to 20, which is pushing the fire toward the river bottom south of Santa Paula. Additional firefighting resources are being dispatched to deal with the increased threat to structures.

Video from television helicopters has showed structures burning.

The Ventura County Fire Department reported at 12:10 p.m. Friday that the fire had burned 8,700 acres.

map Maria Fire Ventura County California
The red dots represent heat on the Maria Fire detected by a satellite at 2:06 a.m. PDT November 1, 2019. Click to enlarge.

Maria Fire structures burning
Screenshot from ABC7 at 11:53 a.m. Nov. 1, 2019.
DC-10 air tanker drops Maria Fire
DC-10 air tanker drops on the Maria Fire south of Santa Paula. Screenshot from ABC7 at 11:42 a.m. Nov. 1, 2019.

7:25 a.m. PDT November 1, 2019

Thursday night a rapidly spreading fire south of Santa Paula, California was pushed six miles to the southwest by winds gusting at 25 mph. (see map above)

The Maria Fire was reported at 6:15 Thursday night near South Mountain and within eight hours was 4 miles east of Ventura and 2 miles north of Camarillo. The Ventura County Fire Department reported at 6:30 Friday morning that it had been mapped at 8,060 acres.

The County Sheriff’s office issued mandatory evacuation notices Thursday night affecting about 1,800 structures and 7,500 residents. NBC Los Angeles said two homes have burned.

Thursday night a weather station on South Mountain recorded sustained winds of 18 to 20 mph gusting out of the northeast at 25 to 30 while the relative humidity was extremely low, at 5 percent.

The Maria Fire is across the valley from the Thomas Fire that in December, 2017 blackened 230,500 acres and destroyed 1,063 structures.

“I want to assure you that this is not the Thomas Fire,” said Ventura County Assistant Fire Chief John McNeil. “Based on the location, it’s going to eventually run out of fuel … we’re looking at maybe 12,000 acres at the biggest footprint on this,” he said.

As you can see on the satellite map above, out ahead of the fire that was spread by winds out of the northeast are agricultural fields that would slow or stop the Maria Fire.

The photo below appears to have been taken shortly after the Maria Fire ignited.

map Maria Fire 3-D
This is 3-D map showing the very, very rough, approximate location of the Maria Fire early Friday morning. Looking east. Not to be used for evacuation or planning decisions. Click to enlarge.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

4 thoughts on “Maria Fire east of Ventura remapped at 9,412 acres”

  1. It is very scary with all these fires going on in that area of Southern California. I had been there long time ago. One area was well-known for movie stars’ ranch with horses in huge lot and single level ranch house. I didn’t think the area was pretty, mostly just low hills, widely spread out, some trees and vegetation.

  2. The KTLA news helicopter footage of the Maria fire so close to the (moving) trailered dozer ended without showing whether the operator backed-out as the second rig nearby had done. Anyone know how that played-out?


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