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Crews Douse Fires in Simi and Moorpark

July 07, 1998|COLL METCALFE

Ventura County firefighters battled two east county fires Monday, one of which stranded more than 150 weekend campers near the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley.

More than 120 firefighters, including a bulldozer team and two helicopters, responded to a brush fire that erupted shortly before 2 p.m. in the hillsides located at the far southern end of Tapo Canyon Road in Simi Valley.

Investigators said arson appears to be the fire's cause, but would not elaborate.

The fire, which sent a plume of gray and brown smoke thousands of feet into the air, charred about 15 acres before firefighters contained it about 4:45 p.m.

"It looks like a bomb went off," said Anna Marie Chavez as she walked along Los Angeles Avenue.

Fire officials said hilly terrain and temperatures that hovered near the 90s hampered their efforts to battle the fire.

Hand crews spent the evening dousing the hot spots to ensure against another flame-up.

Meanwhile, two engine companies responded to a grass fire in Moorpark that erupted shortly after 2 p.m. in a vacant lot along Los Angeles Avenue. Firefighters extinguished the small blaze in just minutes.

No injuries or damage was reported in either fire.

A La Nina condition is expected this fire season, meaning cooler than normal coastal water temperatures and relatively dry weather. That could increase the strength of Santa Ana winds this year, meteorologists predict, which could fan a small grass fire into a raging conflagration.

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