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California wildfires: Swirling winds create dangerous conditions

May 02, 2013|By Robert J. Lopez

A shift in the winds Thursday evening created swirling gusts that were causing spot fires and creating dangerous conditions for firefighters battling a brush fire that had charred more than 6,500 acres in Ventura County.

"One minute you're fighting the fire with the wind at your back. Then it shifts and the fire is coming right at you," firefighter Bill Thomas of the Ventura County Fire Department told The Times.

The wind swirls were whipping up embers that were blowing past the fire front and igniting smaller fires in brush that has not burned in years, fire officials said.

Earlier in the day, strong Santa Ana winds grounded fixed-wing aircraft. But as the Santa Ana winds subsided Thursday evening, five aircraft resumed water and fire-retardant drops on the blaze. 

The winds Thursday evening near Camarillo had reversed and were blowing out of the west at 13 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Relative humidity, which was in the single digits earlier in the day, had increased to 25%.

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