Authorities have ordered evacuations for the Dos Vientos neighborhood of Newbury Park as a brush fire continues to grow along the 101 Freeway.
The blaze, dubbed the Springs fire, has scorched 2,000 acres and is being fanned by a strong Santa Ana wind, Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash said. Firefighters "are making headway along the flanks of the fire," he added, but the main body is moving toward Newbury Park.
"We advise anybody in the area to be prepared. Wildfires are very unpredictable -- we don't know what direction it's going to go," Nash said. "We really want people to be prepared. It's better to do it now before a sheriff's deputy is knocking on your door."
Evacuations were also ordered for Cal State Channel Islands near Camarillo, fire officials said. Twenty fire engines are being sent to the campus for structure protection.
The Red Cross has set up evacuation centers at the Thousand Oaks Community Park, 2525 N. Moorpark Road, and Camarillo's Calvary Community Chapel, 380 Mobil Ave.
The fire flared about 6:30 a.m. along the Conejo Grade of the freeway, near hundreds of homes. Firefighters from Ventura County, Cal Fire, and the cities of Ventura and Oxnard were “all on the ground right now trying to get ahead of this thing," Nash said.
The Sheriff’s Department said two southbound lanes of freeway were closed along with Old Conejo Road at Reino Road.
Stuart Seto, a specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, said humidity had dropped significantly in the area – “from 80% down into the teens, and they’re getting lower.” That, coupled with “extreme” wind gusts, would likely make Thursday “the worst day as far as the fires,” Seto said.
“This is really dry,” he said. “The fire in Camarillo Springs really jumped up from nothing to 100 acres in no time at all.”
Nash said the combination of wind and hot temperatures were a "perfect recipe for a fire."
The National Weather Service warned of an “extreme” fire danger in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties on Thursday and Friday. A red-flag warning was issued for L.A. and Ventura counties because of a “combination of moderate to strong Santa Ana winds, hot temperatures, very low humidities and unusually dry fuels."
The weather is fanning the Summit fire in Riverside County, which scorched about 3,000 acres since Wednesday afternoon. Two firefighters have been injured and one building damaged in that fire.
Riverside County reported a vegetation fire in Jurupa Valley on Thursday morning that also reportedly burned four structures.