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Agoura Hills brushfire burns 80 acres

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image kabc"><span>KABC</span></div><span class="caption-text">See It! Shoot It! Send It! ABC7 viewer Ari Mattson snapped this shot of the Agoura Hills fire from the freeway. (KABC-TV)</span></div>
August 26, 2008 1:29:12 PM PDT
Firefighters battled a brushfire in Agoura Hills that rapidly neared homes.The fire was reported at 12:05 p.m. near the intersection of Las Virgenes and Lost Hills Roads on the south side of the 101 Freeway. Fire officials say the fire started at Malibu Creek State Park. However, the fire quickly jumped over the freeway to the north side of the 101 where there are more homes and other structures.

Firefighters were able to prevent any flames from damaging homes even as the fire was seen right next to homes. Flames were seen within 100 yards of homes and burned about 120 acres.

The L.A. Sheriff's Department said the blaze was out as of 11:00 p.m.

Officials say the light wind conditions helped them fight the fire quickly.

L.A. County Fire attacked flames with five water-dropping helicopters and about 240 personnel.

A mix of light and heavy brush helped the blaze take off quickly when it initially started.

"The winds were light and the humidity was not extremely low. But, the fuels out there are still very, very dry. We were having some spotting conditions even without the wind pushing the fire," said Battalion Chief Scott Smith, Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The California Highway Patrol shut down the Liberty Canyon Road and Lost Hill Road on and offramps along the 101 Freeway at one point on Tuesday. However, the roads are now open.

Traffic has been reopened along Las Virgenes Road.

Fire officials say one of the biggest concerns were flareups. There are no reports injures.

"We don't have the opportunity to be lackadaisical out here. We get real aggressive with these brush fires because these people's homes are at stake," said Chief Smith.

Authorities did not issue any mandatory evacuations. However, some area residents voluntarily evacuated.

"A lot of people kind of packed their cars up. I've got my car packed up with computers and all my photography equipment ... stuff like that ... and all the paperwork and stuff like that. We got it all packed. And people all along here are packing their cars just in case," said Ed Lee, resident.

"I went outside to empty the trash ... turned my head ... helicopter and a huge plume of smoke right there. Very scary," said Wendy Sausser, resident. "Went inside ... come on girls ... we're going. We were in the Malibu fire, so it was very scary. We had to do it again. Loaded up the car and here we are."

"From my house you could see and hear the bulldozers. That was pretty nasty," said Gary Leclair, resident. "Just closed all the windows in the house ... Made sure the dog was okay."

Authorities are investigating the cause, however, they do say origin of the fire is suspicious.

Los Angeles County fire officials say the cause of the fire is suspicious in nature. Arson investigators were on the scene gathering evidence.

Fire officials say the blaze moved west to east, which is unusual because, typically, the Santa Ana winds move in the opposite direction.

Fire officials say they were very pleased with the clearance at local businesses and homes in the area. They wanted to extend their gratitude to everyone for keeping brush around their homes and businesses clear during fire season.

"Their clearance was excellent," said Paul Hartwell, Los Angeles County Fire. "I heard the initial reports of structures threatened as I was driving here. And, the engine companies we sent to protect those structures gave our ... commander a report of excellent brush clearance. And, therefore, with the brush being cleared the way it was, we could designate those resources to attacking the fire instead of protecting the structures."

"We had just cleared the brush behind us about 30 days ago. And the one thing the firefighters are really, really good about here is ensuring that everybody cuts their brush down," said Jeff Galen, an Agoura Hills homeowner. "One of the incredible things about living in this community is the beautiful views of the Santa Monica Mountains up here. And that's completely destroyed at this point."

 

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