2013-05-03 / Community

Wildfire cuts swath from Camarillo grade, threatens upscale Newbury Park community

By Kyle Jorrey

Firefighters battled a fastmoving brush fire Thursday driven by high winds and record high temperatures that consumed 6,500 acres of brush in Camarillo and Newbury Park.

The fire cut a path almost to the ocean and destroyed several recreational vehicles and boats parked in a storage lot.

One agricultural building caught fire and sent noxious fumes into the air.

According to Bill Nash of the Ventura County Fire Department, no homes were damage.

Part of Cal State University Channel Islands reportedly caught fire, but the blaze was extinguished. CI spokesperson Nancy Gill said the campus was evacuated quickly, and most people were gone by noon.

The campus was to remain closed today.

The 100- acre fire began Thursday morning near the Camarillo Springs community, south of the 101 Freeway, and quickly grew to more than 6,500 acres by early afternoon. Homes in Camarillo Springs were evacuated.

A Red Cross evacuation center was established at Calvary Nexus Church.

An evacuation also was ordered for the Dos Vientos neighborhood in Newbury Park just east of the Conejo Grade.

The Dos Vientos Palermo homes stood directly in the line of fire but, according to Rene Carion, a real estate agent who lives in the neighborhood, “There’s a fuel modification plan in Dos Vientos and you can really see that it’s doing its job.”

Safety officials closed several roads, including Pacific Coast Highway between Las Posas and Yerba Buena roads. More than 500 firefighters and three helicopters were ordered into action. Four fixed-wing planes that dropped fire retardant onto the blaze earlier in the day had to be grounded due to the high winds.

Terry and Paul Doebler were in their home in Camarillo Springs when they heard police on motorcycles ordering residents to evacuate.

Paul Doebler said he and his wife grabbed their dog, a few items and left the area quickly. The couple drove to the evacuation center and sat at a table watching television news feeds on the church’s large screen.

“We just had time to grab my wallet, checkbook, water and dog food,” Doebler told the Acorn.

Terry Doebler said she saw flames building on a hillside behind her home. She said she called friends at a nearby retirement home to make sure they were able to leave. Doebler said other friends told her a propane tank near a mobile home park in Camarillo Springs had exploded but that nobody was hurt.

“I’m hoping we will be able to go home tonight,” she said. “We don’t really have family here, so there’s nowhere else to go.”

Karen Dittma of the Red Cross was serving as shelter supervisor at the Camarillo evacuation center. By midday about three dozen people had checked into the facility. Several CI students were there, including dorm roommates Gabby Valenti and Marie Smith. Valenti, a 19-year-old freshman, said her dorm’s resident adviser told her and her roommate to leave.

“The loudspeakers were going off and telling us to gather stuff for one or two nights and anything important,” said Valenti, a San Diego native. “I brought a duffle bag with a few pillows and blankets in case I need to spend the night.”

Smith, Valenti’s roommate, said she was surprised how quickly the fire escalated.

“One minute the fire was only near houses in Newbury Park and then we’re being told to evacuate the entire campus,” said Smith, a 19-year-old Victorville native. “A few people were panicking but everyone pretty much left simply and calmly.”

Classes at Adolfo Camarillo High School remained in session.

Wendi Pettersen of the Camarillo school district said local schools received an air quality warning from the Ventura County Office of Education due to the amount of smoke from the blaze.

ACHS officials canceled all outdoor activities for the day.

“The county advised us that, due to the air quality, it wouldn’t be safe for people who have asthma to be outside,” Petterson said. “Any outside activity has been canceled.”

Record Camarillo temperatures that pushed 90 degrees helped fuel the fi re.

Stephanie Guzman contributed to this story.

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