Maria Fire: Containment increases to 30% as flames consume 9,412 acres in Ventura County

SANTA PAULA, Calif. (KABC) -- All mandatory evacuation orders were lifted Saturday as firefighters continued to make progress against the Maria Fire in Ventura County, raising the containment level to 30 percent even as the blaze spread to 9,412 acres.

Fanned by relentlessly powerful and shifting Santa Ana winds, the wildfire near Santa Paula destroyed at least three structures and forced some 8,000 to evacuate as nearly 1,600 firefighters remained assigned to the incident.

Officials said full containment of the blaze was expected by Nov. 8.

Meanwhile, an investigation into the cause of the fire continued.

A photo released by the Ventura County Fire Department shows the initial flames erupting near power lines shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday.

Southern California Edison said that just minutes before the fire began, the utility had restored power to high-voltage lines in the area. Ironically, those lines had been turned off in an effort to prevent such a blaze.

"No matter how many times they shut it off, if they turn it back on it's still going to be there, right? So this problem presents itself," said Brendan Davidson, who lives near the burn area. "So it might just take a whole system overhaul."

Edison power lines sparked the deadly Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in December 2017, which was followed by devastating mudslides.

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