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California wildfires: A battle to save Hidden Valley

May 03, 2013|By Matt Stevens and Christine Mai-Duc
  • Firefighters head out to battle the Springs fire in Ventura County's Hidden Valley.
Firefighters head out to battle the Springs fire in Ventura County's… (Eddy Hartenstein / Los Angeles…)

Firefighters made a pitched battle Friday to protect the Hidden Valley area of Ventura County from the Springs fire.

Authorities said more than 1,000 firefighters were at work, unloading torrents of water and flame retardant to battle the fire as it ran up canyons and crept within 100 feet of homes in the affluent area of Ventura County. The wildfire burned through 28,000 acres, and firefighters had only 20% of the blaze surrounded as of Friday evening, authorities said.

The fire had already made a harrowing reversal on Friday, buffeted by more on-shore wind than officials expected, endangering areas that had previously escaped the first wave of flames in the fire’s path. Officials, who had estimated the fire would be under control by May 13, said they might have to revise those expectations because of Friday’s conditions.

Those on the frontlines were hopeful that Saturday’s forecasts of a 20-degree temperature drop, higher humidity and light rain would hold true, handing them a much-needed assist.

“Any time we can take advantage of the situation, we’re going to get in there and do it,” said Ventura County Fire spokesman Tom Kruschke. “If we get the advantage to move in and get aggressive on this fire and do that safely, absolutely, we’re going to do that.”

Eddy Hartenstein and Catherine Saillant of the Los Angeles Times have chronicled the fight in images:

[View the story "Battle for Hidden Valley" on Storify]

matt.stevens@latimes.com

christine.maiduc@latimes.com

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