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Ventura County

Wildfire Near Ojai Is Slowed

Firefighting: The 22,000-acre blaze in the Sespe Wilderness remains 65% contained.

June 12, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

Strong breezes fanned new hot spots across the Sespe Wilderness on Tuesday, but the 22,000-acre wildfire in Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai failed to gain much ground, officials said.

"It's been quiet all day," said Jim Renshaw, an engineer with the Ventura County Fire Department. "There are a few areas that have acted up because it got drier and hotter again."

Fire crews at Tuesday morning's planning session said two hand crews cutting fire lines on both sides of the blaze made significant progress overnight even as the small flare-ups continued to burn.

The fire remains 65% contained, and officials expect to have it under control by Friday evening. Several helicopters used to fight the fire were unable to take off Tuesday morning because of dense fog in Ojai but were airborne by noon, Renshaw said.

The cause of the blaze, which began June 1, has not been determined. So far, the fire has cost federal, state and local agencies $11.9 million. About 1,000 firefighters are still on the lines. The firefighters' base camp in Ojai's Soule Park will remain at least through June 21, officials said. The park is temporarily closed to the public.

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