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Wind-driven flames force evacuations near Fillmore

Nearby fire departments help battle a blaze sparked by a downed power line as 50-mph gusts topple trees and cause outages for DWP and Edison customers across a broad area.

April 08, 2013|By Robert J. Lopez, Los Angeles Times
  • A brush fire burns near Fillmore around Foothill Road and Central Avenue after winds downed an electrical line that started the blaze. Residents were being notified via a reverse 911 system and told they could seek shelter at the Fillmore Veterans Memorial Building.
A brush fire burns near Fillmore around Foothill Road and Central Avenue… (Al Seib, Los Angeles Times )

An estimated 200 people were ordered to evacuate their homes Monday night as a fire whipped by powerful winds scorched brush in mountainside neighborhoods near Fillmore in Ventura County and burned at least two structures.

The fire had burned about 170 acres but there were no reports of injuries.

The blaze was sparked by a downed power line as winds gusting to nearly 50 mph battered Southern California. The fierce winds toppled trees, swirled clouds of dust across area highways and left thousands of people without electricity from Elsinore to Lancaster, officials said.

Photos: Fillmore brush fire

In Ventura County, about 84 homes were ordered evacuated in an area north of the 900 block of Central Avenue in Fillmore, law enforcement authorities said. No injuries were reported.

The blaze broke out about 4:30 p.m. and initially burned a mobile home before spreading to adjacent brush and quickly burning uphill as fire crews scrambled to keep up with the fast-moving flames.

"Our focus right now is life and property," Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Mike Lindbery told The Times. "We're trying to get ahead of this fire."

Dozens of firefighters on the ground were aided by crews that responded from surrounding jurisdictions. Helicopters made repeated water drops as wind gusts blew embers and thick smoke across the area.

Homes threatened by the flames were in an area that included Foothill Road, Arundell Circle and Hunter Drive.

Residents were being notified via a reverse 911 system and were being told they could seek shelter at the Fillmore Veterans Memorial Building at 511 2nd St., Capt. Dave Wareham of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department said.

Late Monday, crews were still trying to knock down flames.

Earlier in the day, about 18,000 people were without power in Los Angeles and cities stretching from Pomona to Lancaster, according to utility officials.

As of Monday evening, about 1,800 customers were without power in several cities served by Southern California Edison, the utility said. In Los Angeles, about 13,000 people were without power Monday afternoon in Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire and the San Fernando Valley, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Water and Power.

Spokeswoman Kim Hughes said more than 30 crews were working to restore power. "We're calling in more bodies," she said.

robert.lopez@latimes.com

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