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Ventura County firefighters concerned about high winds

Firefighters across Ventura County are on high alert due to strong winds and unusually dry weather.
December 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Firefighters across Ventura County are on high alert due to strong winds and unusually dry weather.

A small brush fire popped up on the side of the 118 Freeway Thursday afternoon, and within minutes, crews arrived at the scene. They cleared brush and set up lines to contain the fire, and quickly had it under control.

Cpt. Mike Lindbery with Ventura County Fire says they have to be very aggressive on a day like this.

"We are looking at single digits humidity, people of Southern California know it when their lips start drying out and they're really thirsty, OK we've got Santa Ana's blowing, it's doing the same thing to the shrubs, the plants, and everything out there, it's lowering their fuel moisture which is already at critical levels," said Lindbery.

With such dry brush, a fire can start easily.

Ventura County fire crews worked overnight to battle the Lilac Fire near the 118 Freeway in the Simi Valley area of Lilac Lane and Santa Susana Pass Road. The blaze broke out at 10:23 p.m. and quickly spread to eight acres.

The fire was contained at about 6 p.m.

Lindbery said nearby residents were sheltered in place when the fire began, and that the biggest issue for crews was the wind.

Over 300 firefighters from Los Angeles and Ventura counties responded to the scene. Crews from Los Angeles City Fire also provided support early in the fire fight.

Nearby residents say they watched the blaze and worried.

"Whenever the wind crops up, it gets scary," said Glen Ryan of Simi Valley. "We just cope with it and hope nothing goes bad. Last night was scary, we were hoping to get some rest, but it was difficult, you know, I was up until 2 o'clock in the morning."

Firefighters kept an eye on the fire throughout the day due to red flag conditions.

Homes located along Santa Susana Pass Road are perched in the mountains and vulnerable. The winds howled through the area all day long.

"As the sun hits the ground today, we're gonna be watching a lot of the shrubs, a lot of the bushes in that area to make sure, because that's when things tend to flare up," said Lindbery. "When that solar radiation hits it, it heats it up and begins to basically, lower the ignition temperature of that fuel."


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