California Brush Fires Torch Million-Dollar Homes, Lead to Further Evacuations

Fires scorch more than 8,000 acres of land, send thousands of residents fleeing.

ByABC News
May 3, 2013, 6:24 AM

May 3, 2013 — -- A wildfire spurred by high winds is raging across Southern California, scorching more than 8,000 acres of land and sending thousands of resident fleeing from their homes as new evacuations are ordered.

More than 2,000 homes in the Camarillo, Calif., area have been threatened, while 15 have sustained damage. About 10 percent of the fire has been contained as more than 900 first responders are on the scene battling the flames. There have been no reports of injuries.

Homeowners had to clear out with little warning, and too little time to grab precious possessions. Million-dollar homes burst into flames, despite the best efforts of firefighters to protect them.

"I actually watched [my home] go up in flames, as well as my boat," one resident told ABC News. "I can look up on the hill and it's completely gone."

Overall, 2,000 residences have been threatened and 15 have sustained damage, according to ABC affiliate KABC-TV.

Along with the Santa Ana winds, low humidity and thick, dry brush are adding to the mounting problems for firefighters. The National Weather Service said strong Santa Ana winds and extreme fire danger would remain in the region through today.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered shortly before 8 p.m. local time Thursday in Sycamore Canyon and the La Jolla and Broome Ranch areas. Residents in Dos Vientos are being allowed to access the area but must carry identification with them.

The fire line stretches 10 miles to the Pacific Coast Highway.

"Obviously, the fire can't go much further than the Pacific Coast Highway," Ventura County firefighter Tony McHale said. "So in this area that's OK but we'd like to keep it out of the canyons further south from here. We can use some of the highways and roads that are back there. But, again, it's contingent on fire weather conditions."

The blaze erupted Thursday morning along U.S. 101 in the Camarillo area, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. It was quickly spread by winds, which also pushed other damaging blazes across the region.

About 100 miles east of Camarillo in Riverside County, two homes were destroyed, two more were damaged Thursday in a 12-acre wildfire.

That fire is still burning, but officials said it was 40 percent contained, according to The Associated Press.