A brush fire that broke out Thursday evening on South Mountain exploded overnight to more than 8,000 acres, destroying two structures and threatening homes in Santa Paul and Somis, Ventura County officials said Friday morning. It was 0% contained.
The blaze, dubbed the Maria Fire, erupted at the tail end of the Santa Ana wind event that fanned multiple fires across Southern California in recent days. As of 8:30 p.m. Thursday, winds were blowing on South Mountain from the northeast at about 18 mph with 25 mph gusts. Relative humidity was very dry at 6%.
Two structures have been lost in the fire, which is threatening homes in Santa Paula and Somis, said Capt. Brian McGrath with the Ventura County Fire Department. Crews have been deployed to protect those residences, he added.
“Winds have died down just a bit,” allowing crews to aggressively attack the flames, McGrath said.
The captain said aerial units have had to be grounded twice due to drones being flown in the Santa Paula area.
“It really hampers our abilities,” McGrath said.
A red flag warning for the area was set to be lifted at 6 p.m. Friday.
Ventura County fire officials previously said the blaze had burned 8,300 but later lowered that estimate to 8,060 acres.
The Maria Fire prompted mandatory evacuations in the following areas:
- North: South Mountain Road
- West: West Los Angeles Ave
- East: Balcom County Road
- South: Highway 118
Shelters have been set up at the following locations:
- Camarillo Community Center
1605 Burnley St., Camarillo
- Camarillo Animal Shelter (small animals)
600 Aviation Dr., Camarillo
- Ventura County Fairgrounds (large animals)
10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura
- Earl Warren Showgrounds (large animals)
3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara
The following roads have been shut down:
- South Mountain Road between 12th Street and Balcom Canyon
- Berylwood Road at Aggen Road
- West La Loma Road between Center Road and Walnut Avenue
- Price Road at E. Los Angeles Ave (Highway 118)
- Clubhouse Drive at E. Los Angeles Avenue (Highway 118)
The following schools are closed Friday:
- ACE (Camarillo)
- Briggs School District
- Hueneme Elementary School District
- Mesa Union School District
- Mupu School District
- Oxnard Union High School District
- Santa Clara Elementary School District
- Santa Paula Unified School District
- University Preparation (Camarillo)
The Ventura County Community College District has not announced any campus closures as of 4:40 a.m. Friday.
Check back for updates on this developing story.
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