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WEST VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS

VENTURA : Transient's Campfire Causes Blaze in Brush

August 30, 1994|FRED ALVAREZ

A transient's campfire that got out of control early Monday charred about an acre of brush near the Ventura River mouth, burning slowly but sending a thick column of smoke into the air.

About 6:30 a.m., the fire spread from the campfire to the driftwood and tall grass at Ventura's proposed Seaside Wilderness Park on the west side of the river, Fire Department Capt. Myles Smith said.

Firefighters arrived shortly before 7 a.m., Smith said. Although the fire did not spread quickly, Smith said efforts to battle the blaze were hampered by the hardscrabble terrain on the Ventura River bottom.

Using a gas-powered pump that sucks water directly out of the river, eight firefighters took about two hours to put out the fire.

Dozens of homeless people have set up camps over the years near the ecologically sensitive river mouth where the fire occurred. Despite recent efforts by Ventura city officials to wipe out those encampments, Smith said transients still frequent the area.

"People go freely in and out of those areas," Smith said. "I don't think we'll ever really have a handle on it."

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