2ND UPDATE, 9:05 AM: The Easy Fire in Simi Valley has grown to nearly 1,725 acres, but the Ventura County Fire Department says today that “control lines were wind tested last night and held.” Containment is a 10%, with more than 1,000 firefighters on the lines and battling from the air.
Mandatory evacuations have been lifted execpt the following area of Simi Valley, unincorporated Simi Valley and Moorpark:
North: Highway 118
South: Olsen Road/Madera Street
East: Madera Street
West: Highway 23
The cause of the fire, which broke out around 6 a.m. Wednesday, remains under investigation.
UPDATED with new details and evacuation orders, 12:19 PM: A fast-moving brush fire fueled by near-hurricane-force winds is sweeping through Simi Valley near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Ventura County, forcing mandatory evacuations as it moves toward neighborhoods. The flames are threatening more than 6,500 homes.
At a noon press conference, authorities said the fire is 0% contained and has burned at least once residential structure and some outbuildings.
“The fire outflanked us very rapidly today, pushed by those 40- to 50-mph winds,” said Chad Cook, incident commander for the Ventura County Fire Department. “We did have gusts to 65 mph this morning, which made long-range spotting very, very dangerous and also quickly outpaced the initial attack resources.”
Here are the areas under mandatory-evacuation orders as of 11 a.m., per the Ventura County Fire Department:
Simi Valley: Teirra Rejada (north), Olsen Road/Madera Street (south), Madera Street (East) and 23 Freeway (west).
Moorpark/Thousand Oaks: Read Road (north), Olsen Road (south), 23 Freeway (east) and Moorpark Road (west).
Santa Rosa/Thousand Oaks: Santa Rosa Road (north), Andalusia Drive (south), Moorpark Road (east) and Andalusia Drive (west).
Television news footage shows the library complex in the middle of the evacuation zone. Dubbed the Easy Fire, the blaze broke around about 6 a.m. near the 118 Freeway and Madera Street, burning about 250 acres in the first hour, Ventura County Fire Capt. Brian McGrath told the Los Angeles Times. It since has grown to more than 1,300 acres, spreading at a rate of 300 acres an hour.
“It’s a pretty tough situation here,” a worried-looking John Heubusch, executive director of the Reagan Library told KTLA this morning. “There’s never been fires this close to the library. It’s a place of national treasure, and the flames are licking right up against it.”
The blaze has forced the closure of the 23 Freeway between Avenida de los Arboles and Los Angeles Avenue.
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The latest fire comes as Southern California endures its first-ever “extreme red flag warning”, with forecasts of Santa Ana winds from 50 to 70 mph and isolated gusts of 80 mph, the strongest to hit the area in years.
Meanwhile, the Getty Fire in Los Angeles, which broke out Monday, has burned at least 656 acres and was 15% contained as of 7 pm Tuesday, with 12 homes destroyed and five others damaged. One firefighter sustained a minor injury.
Erik Pedersen and City News Service contributed to this report.
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