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Springs Fire nears containment at 80 percent

May 6, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Firefighters are getting close to gaining full control of the massive blaze that tore through the Camarillo area of Ventura County.

See an interactive map of the Springs Fire

As of Monday morning, the blaze was 80 percent contained, and full containment was expected on Tuesday. The fire has burned through 28,000 acres of terrain at the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains.

At its peak, the fire threatened 4,000 homes as it moved through neighborhoods of Camarillo Springs and Thousand Oaks. It damaged 10 outbuildings.

As the fire nears full containment, there are new concerns the rain could trigger mud or rock slides. K-rail and rock barriers on a seven-mile stretch along Pacific Coast Highway were set in place as a precaution to protect motorists and roadways.

The fire, which was reported on Thursday, is believed to have been sparked by an undetermined roadside ignition of grass or debris along the 101 Freeway. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, but arson has been ruled out.

Rain is helping firefighters in Ventura County significantly reduce fire activity surrounding the Springs Fire. Officials say cooler temperatures, higher humidity, and light rain have facilitated progress.

But officials said the wet conditions did make for some difficult firefighting efforts Sunday.

"Because of the rain, you can imagine that the crews out there last night were working in very miserable wet conditions," said Tony McHale, Ventura County Fire Dept. "There's mud on the containment lines so footing was an issue. There's also the issue of rolling rocks and the steep terrain. Once you have a brush fire go through, the vegetations gone, nothings holding the rocks in place, you do have a certain amount of rock slide activity."

The rain created dangerous conditions on nearby roadways including Pacific Coast Highway. McHale said California Highway Patrol was slowing motorists down on the slick roads Monday.

As many as 1,900 firefighters battled the blaze at its peak. That number is now down to 1,000 as the fire is now in its final stages. Firefighters are now finalizing their control lines, mopping up any hot spots that might have remained including stumps that might still be burning and smoldering brush.

Authorities say one civilian and a total of six firefighters were injured in the Springs Fire, but the injuries were mostly minor, involving loose debris.

Saturday, a firefighter slipped in rugged terrain while putting out a flare-up and sustained a head injury. He was transported to a hospital in Thousand Oaks, where he was reported in stable condition. He is expected to make a full recovery.

All evacuations and road closures have been lifted. Residents may return to their homes with proper identification.

With one of the state's earliest fire seasons already under way, Gov. Jerry Brown was to meet Tuesday with a contingent of firefighters and emergency responders to discuss what more the state needs to do.


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