Wildfire Nearly Triples Overnight

 

  This satellite photo released by NOAA shows a stream of smoke clearly visible moving west over the ocean, as are the heat signatures from the active fires areas. (AP Photo/NOAA via NASA)
Cal Fire firefighters battle high winds and rough terrains in the Panther Fire that started just over 10 miles north of Butte Meadows Wednesday, May 1, 2013 in Butte Meadows, Calif. (AP Photo/Jason Halley, Chico Enterprise-Record)

Associated Press

CAMARILLO, Calif. — A wildfire tearing through a coastal region in Southern California nearly tripled in size as high temperatures fueled the flames, but a fire official said early Saturday that a favorable shift in the weather will likely help crews make progress against the flames.

The fire 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles mushroomed to 43 square miles Friday as 900 firefighters used engines, aircraft, bulldozers and other equipment to battle the flames.

Forecasters said a weekend of increased humidity should help teams fighting the early-season blaze.

“It’s a total turnaround from what we had,” said Kurt Kaplan, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “It should be a much better day for firefighters tomorrow.”

Capt. Mike Lindbery of the Ventura County Fire Department said early Saturday that crews intended to take advantage of lower temps and higher humidity.

“That will give us a chance because it’s going to really bring that fire activity down quite a bit. I think we will make some significant progress,” Lindbery said.

Despite its size and speed of growth, the fire that broke out Thursday and quickly moved through the Camarillo Springs area has caused damage to just 15 structures, though it’s threatening thousands.

Residents were grateful so many homes were spared.

“It came pretty close. All of these houses – these firemen did a tremendous job. Very, very thankful for them,” Shayne Poindexter said. Flames came within 30 feet of the house he was building.

Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash said parts of the Newbury Park community of Thousand Oaks were under mandatory and voluntary evacuations. Overnight, he said firefighters planned to stockpile resources along a road that lies between the fire and Malibu, protecting homes on the fire’s eastern front. Its cause of the fire is under investigation.

The good fortune of the Camarillo Springs area wasn’t the result of luck or clairvoyance by firefighters. It came after years of planning and knowing that sooner or later just such a conflagration was going to strike.

Camarillo Springs, which was nothing more than rugged backcountry when homes began to go up there 30 years ago, was well prepared.

Its homes were built with sprinkler systems and fireproof exteriors from the roofs to the foundations. Residents are required to clear brush and other combustible materials to within 100 feet of the dwellings, and developers had to make sure the cul-de-sacs that fill the area’s canyons were built wide enough to accommodate the emergency vehicles seen on TV racing in to battle the flames.

Residents in the area are also particularly vigilant about clearing brush from the hillsides next to their yards, Kruschke said. Normally, firefighters remind people in such areas to do that every June, but in Camarillo Springs people do it every few months. The work paid off this week.

The type of blaze that hit the area usually doesn’t strike Southern California wild-land until September or October, after the summer has dried out hillside vegetation. But the state has seen a severe drought during the past year, with the water content of California’s snowpack only 17 percent of normal.

That created late-summer conditions by May, and when hot Santa Ana winds and high temperatures arrived this week, the spring flames that firefighters routinely knock down once or twice a year quickly roared up a hillside – out of control.

On Friday, the wildfire stormed back through canyons toward inland neighborhoods when winds reversed direction.

After jumping Pacific Coast Highway 20 miles north of Malibu, the fire burned for a time on a beach shooting range at the Point Mugu Naval Air Station.

The blaze is one of more than 680 wildfires in the state so far this year – about 200 more than average.

 Residents look on as a back fire set by firefighters consumes the hillside behind their homes as a wildfire burns on May 2, 2013 in Newbury Park, Calif. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

 

  Smoke billows over U.S. 101 near Thousand Oaks, Calif. Authorities have ordered evacuations of a neighborhood and a university about 50 miles west of L.A. (Image: AP Photo/Nick Ut)
 

 A brush fire burns a sign at a shooting range on the beach at Navel Base Ventura County on Friday, May 3, 2013.
(AP Photo/Nick Ut)

 

A firefighter battles the wildfire near the farmland along a hillside in Point Mugu , Calif. (Image; AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

 

 Residents watch the flames of wildfire move closer to their homes in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Image: AP Photo/Los Angeles Daily News, Hans Gutknecht) 

 A firefighter watches a wildfire along a hillside in Point Mugu , Calif. Friday, May 3, 2013. (Image: AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

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‘No Emergencies’ Reported After Bright Light Seen In SoCal Skies

‘Described as everything from blue to white to bright green in color’

(credit: Driendl Group/Getty Images)

 

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A streak of light that apparently sparked several reports across Southern California was not considered to be a public threat, according to fire officials.

Over 40 reports from eyewitnesses around the Southland and statewide reported the sight to the American Meteor Society (AMS) around approximately 10:30 p.m. on Thursday night.

Residents from cities as far north as Sacramento, Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara and as far south as Malibu and Costa Mesa reported a “brief tail of light” – described as everything from blue to white to bright green in color – traveling in a east-southeast to west-northwest direction across the night sky.

Sightings were also reported in Montebello, Anaheim, Palm Desert, Alhambra, Canyon Country, Arcadia, Laguna Niguel, Burbank, VanNuys, Glendale, Pasadena, San Fernando, and other cities.

The flood of reports prompted the Los Angeles Fire Department to respond on Twitter: “We are in routine operations. There are no emergencies in Los Angeles related to the sighting of a bright light in our atmosphere.”

meteor tweet 1

One Instagram user claimed to have captured an image of the object, adding “Truly feel lucky [to] have seen one of these tonight! #meteor #small #toclose #scary #exciting!”

meteor tweet 2

The location from which the images was taken remained unclear.

CBS2′s Jackie Johnson was among those who wanted to know more about the sighting.

meteor tweet 3
The official government Twitter page of the city of Pasadena was also seeking answers.

meteor tweet 4
The sighting comes nearly one week after an estimated 10-ton meteor exploded over the Ural Mountains in Russia and caused over 1,000 injuries.

Did you see something? Upload your images to the CBSLA StreetTeam.

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