Ventura County fire evacuations lifted, winds ease
FILLMORE, Calif. -- Easing winds on Tuesday gave firefighters a chance to douse a 170-acre wildfire that burned two homes and threatened 160 others in rural Ventura County. The wind-whipped blaze that began Monday afternoon calmed with the dying winds at nightfall, and evacuation orders were lifted at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, county fire spokesman Mike Lindbery said.
The blaze was 80 percent contained Tuesday morning.
About 400 firefighters made progress overnight in battling the fire, Lindbery said.
Winds through the day were expected to be little more than light breezes, with gustier winds expected to return on Wednesday.
"We've got actually a nice little window without wind," Lindbery said.
The fire was burning in light grass and thin chaparral that burns quickly but also fiercely and which was as dry as it normally becomes in June, Lindbery said.
It was sparked by a mobile home fire. Nobody was hurt in that blaze, Lindbery said, and the cause remained under investigation.
At its peak, 40-mph winds pushed winds down a canyon and through orchards and fields. Neighbors on one street grabbed hoses to wet down houses in a cul-de-sac, resident Jackie Gurrola told the Ventura County Star (http://bit.ly/XoOxK0 ).
Flames came within about 150 yards of her house, she said.
The smoke was thick "even with all the doors and windows closed," Gurrola said. "We're all wearing masks. My husband cut up some T-shirts for us."
Sue and Rick Cuttriss and Susan and Ed Hopkins evacuated and stayed with friends, watching the blaze on television.
"I'm seeing my house right now, and there are fire trucks in my driveway," Susan Hopkins said Monday.
The families have evacuated four other times since they moved in more than 30 years ago.
"We burn every five or six years, so we have the evacuation down to a science," she said.
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