What to Know
- The Easy Fire started early Wednesday in the hills of southeastern Ventura County
- Evacuations were ordered in neighborhoods near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
- The fire broke out during some of the most dangerous red flag conditions in years in Southern California
Firefighters had a hopeful outlook for the evening firefight after learning from previous wildfires in Southern California, as crews battled the fast-moving Easy Fire, which when fueled by the most powerful winds of the season grew to more than 1,000 acres in mere hours.
The blaze woke residents early Wednesday morning, climbing a hillside near homes and surrounding the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in thick smoke.
The Easy Fire, estimated at about 1,600 acres, was reported Wednesday around 6 a.m. on a hillside between Simi Valley and Moorpark during extreme fire weather conditions. Buildings at the hilltop library were not immediately threatened, but homes below were evacuated.
It jumped Highway 23 at one point during the day, but firefighters got a handle on that portion of the spread.
"We knew from our experience with Woolsey, Hill and Thomas (fires) that evacuations were going to be needed right away," Division Chief of County of Ventura Jeff Shea said at an afternoon news conference. "We are currently reinforcing lines that are in place, and everything is looking really good."
Later Wednesday, Southern California Edison official Robert Laffoon-Villegas said out of abundance of caution, they've notified the California Public Utilities Commission that there was activity on a 66kV sub-transmission line that hadn't been de-energized near the fire's origin.
U.S. & World
It wasn't immediately clear if this was the source of the blaze, as crews would continue to investigate.
About 1,000 structures are threatened and about 6,500 homes are evacuated in the area about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The evacuations affect about 26,000 residents.
It was still at 0% containment Wednesday afternoon.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for the following areas in the southeast Ventura County region. Click here to view an updated evacuations map.
- North: Highway 118
- South: Olsen / Madera Street
- East: Madera Street
- West: Highway 23
Moorpark / Thousand Oaks
- North: Read Road
- South: Olsen Road
- East: Highway 23
- West: Moorpark Road
- Santa Rosa / Thousand Oaks
- North: Santa Rosa Road
- South: Andalusia Drive
- East: Moorpark Road
- West: Andalusia Drive
- North: Los Angeles Ave.
- South: Tierra Rejada Road
- East: 23 Freeway
- West: Spring Road
Moorpark / Thousand Oaks
- North: Tierra Rejada Road
- South: Santa Rosa Road
- East: Moorpark Road
- West: Vista Grande
- Voluntary Evacuations
- North: East Olsen Road
- South: Sunset Hills Blvd.
- East: Morning Ridge Ave.
- West: Sunset Hills/East Olsen Rd.
- Thousand Oaks Community Center, 2525 N. Moorpark Road.
- Rancho Santa Susana Community Center, 5005 E Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
Large Animal Evacuations
- Ventura County Fairgrounds is accepting large animals in a limited capacity. (10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura) Video showed owners loading horses into trailers to escape the flames.
- Rancho Potrero Equestrian Center is FULL and not accepting any more large animals. (4790 W. Lynn Rd., Thousand Oaks)
- Earl Warren Showgrounds (3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara)
- LA Pierce College is full and not accepting any more large animals.
Small Animal Evacuations
- Camarillo Adoption Center (600 Aviation Drive, Camarillo)
- Highway 23 between Avenida de los Arboles and 118 Interchange
- Moorpark Road at Tierra Rejada Road
- Santa Rosa at Moorpark Road
- Yosemite Ave. Off-Ramp from 118 Eastbound
Water-dropping aircraft were over the flames, some flying low in gusty winds to hit hot spots with precise drops.
There were no reports of injuries.
The flames burned several buildings on Taran Butler's property along Tierra Rejada Road, where at least one home burned.
"We woke up this morning... massive flames came through," said Butler. "The fire department came through and saved the day.
"The fire burned four of our eight structures. Nothing super important burned. The animals are ok. We hope the neighbors are ok."
The Reagan Library, perched on top of a hill overlooking parts of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, has extensive wildfire protection features, such as brush clearance around the property, including goats deployed to eat vegetation that would otherwise be fuel for fires.
Firefighters were positioned near the library, which was closed to visitors for the day. Flames came to within about 30 yards of the complex, but several water drops and firebreaks helped protect its buildings.
Randle Swan, the library curator, said he saw the fire's orange glow behind a ridge as he arrived at his office. He said there are scorch marks 360 degrees around the library, but no significant damage.
Swan was supposed to participate in an national exercise drill on emergency planning.
"Instead of doing the emergency planning exercise, we had an actual emergency," Swan said. "Everything worked the way it was supposed to. The buildings are unharmed."
By late afternoon, fire officials said weather conditions were improving, allowing aircrafts to drop fire retardant onto the fire.
The library is home to more than 60 million pages of documents and 1.6 million photographs covering Reagan's life and administration. It also featuers the Air Force One Pavilion, a hangar-like wing of the property that includes the airliner used during Reagan's presidency and the terms of six other U.S. Presidents. It also houses Secret Service vehicles and a Marine One helicopter from the President Johnson era.
Several schools were closed in Ventura County due to high-risk wildfire conditions. Click here for an updated list.
The strongest Santa Ana winds of the season, possibly in the last decade, are expected Wednesday. The winds, produced by surface high pressure over the Great Basin squeezing air down through canyons and passes in Southern California's mountain ranges, are common in the fall and have a long history of fanning destructive wildfires in the region.
Fall is historically one of the most dangerous times of the year for wildfires in California. Seven of the state's 10-most destructive wildfires occurred in October -- many fueled by monster winds, including Santa Ana gusts.
Through Oct. 27, more than 5,000 wildfires have been reported in California, according to CALFIRE figures. The fires have burned more than 74,000 acres.
About the same number of fires burned at the same time last year, but burned acreage was at an astounding 632,000 due to some of the worst wildfires in state history.
California's five-year average for the same period is 6,190 fires and 198,300 acres.