A few weeks ago, Don Noel looked out from his Simi Valley patio to the field of tall, brown weeds behind his house. He didn't like what he saw, so he asked his wife to call the Ventura County Fire Department to have them dig up the weeds.
A good idea, he says now. Flames from a brush fire that raged out of control for several hours Sunday danced just a few feet from his back fence but died in the now-weedless soil.
"That's what saved our house," said Noel, 37. "Otherwise, I feel there would be nothing left."
About 30 residents in Noel's Indian Hills housing tract fought the flames with garden hoses and sprinklers until the smoke and heat forced them to retreat.
As the fire abated, Noel returned to his home to find no damage. "We were lucky," he said.