A weed abatement worker accidentally sparked a three-quarter-acre grass fire in Moorpark on Saturday when he tried to refill a weed-cutter with gasoline, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.
The blaze started when some of the gasoline spilled onto the tool's hot engine, ignited and quickly spread to surrounding dry weeds.
"At first I thought, 'My God, my propane tank is going to catch fire,' " said Christine Crane, who leases the property at the end of Gabbert Road.
Crane had hired a weed-abatement service to remove some of the excess growth covering the 40-acre horse ranch near the California 118-23 intersection.
"They were here to get rid of the weeds and to get rid of any potential fire hazard," Crane said.
Sam Meier of the Ventura County Fire Department said abundant weed growth fed by heavy rains this winter could soon prove to be troublesome.
"If the easterly winds come up, it could be a real detriment, because the grass is going to dry up," she said.
Fire Department authorities said the new fire season is beginning across the county.
"As soon as you see the hills turn brown, that's when it starts," Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Mike Proett said. "The weeds provide a source of fuel, and there is a heck of a lot of fuel in the hills."
Although flames came close to Crane's house, the blaze was doused by firefighters who responded with three engines.
"The wind started to pick up and the fire got real close to the house and then it started up the hillside," Crane said. "It was quite exciting for a moment there."