California’s latest fire destroys 2 homes, threatens avocado, citrus crops

The Maria Fire is about 45 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of the Ventura County Fire Department

Nov. 1 (UPI) — California’s latest major fire, the Maria Fire, destroyed at least two structures Friday as it grew to nearly 9,000 acres, threatening avocado and citrus crops.

The blaze sparked to life Thursday night on the upper ridge of South Mountain, near Santa Paula. The town is about 45 miles northwest of Los Angeles and 35 miles east-southeast of Santa Barbara.

The Ventura County Fire Department said the fire consumed 8,730 acres and was zero percent contained as of 7 a.m. It destroyed two structures and threatened radio communications and high-voltage electrical power lines in the area.

Acres of avocado and citrus crops also were under protection by some 500 fire crew members.

“We are actively engaged in structure protection, as well as protecting the agricultural assets there with avocados and citrus orchards that have significant values,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said Thursday evening during a news conference.

The county produced $244 million in lemons and $103 million in avocados in 2018, Ventura County’s crop and livestock report indicates.

The Maria Fire was one of multiple blazes threatening both Southern and Northern California amid a strong Santa Ana Wind event — strong winds with hot, dry weather conditions.

Also in Ventura County, the Easy Fire sparked Wednesday in the Simi Valley near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The flames initially threatened the facility, but the VCFD was able to bring the fire under control.

As of Friday morning, it had consumed 1,860 acres and was 80 percent contained.

Officials lifted all evacuations associated with the blaze Thursday.

Getty Fire

Closer to Los Angeles, the Getty Fire was coming under control at 745 acres and 66 percent containment as of Friday morning. The Los Angeles Fire Department said firefighters were extinguishing remaining hot spots and patrolling the area.

The blaze began Monday in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. The LAFD said the cause appears to be accidental — a tree branch broke and landed on a power line during high winds. The subsequent sparks ignited nearby brush.

The Getty Fire destroyed 10 homes and damaged 15 others. Four firefighters sustained injuries battling the blaze.

Hillside Fire

Just north of San Bernardino, the Hillside Fire was 200 acres Friday morning with 70 percent containment.

The blaze began Thursday morning and has since destroyed six homes and damaged 18 others. One firefighter was transported to an area hospital for smoke inhalation.

Officials lifted evacuation orders Thursday afternoon.

Kincade Fire

The state’s largest ongoing fire is the Kincade Fire in Northern California, about 75 miles west of Sacramento in Sonoma County.

The blaze, which sparked to life Oct. 23, was 77,758 acres and 68 percent contained as of Friday morning. Though emergency officials lifted some mandatory evacuation orders, some 5,788 people were still forced out of their homes as of Thursday evening, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Kincade Fire destroyed 352 structures, including 17 homes, and damaged another 55.

Cal Fire said firefighters made good progress battling the blaze overnight Thursday into Friday.

“Access to the northern part of the fire remains challenging because of steep terrain and narrow roads, but firefighters will continue to build on the headway they have been making with even more control lines being established,” the agency said.


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