MOORPARK, Calif., Sept. 23 (UPI) — Santa Ana winds fueled wildfires in Southern California, including one in Ventura County that has grown to 16,000 acres, officials said.
The Guiberson fire in Ventura County, west of Los Angeles, was 40 percent contained by Wednesday afternoon but it threatened oil fields and farms, as well as power lines used to transmit electricity to Ventura and Santa Barbara, fire officials said.
The fires erupted Tuesday, the first day of autumn, which often coincides with the arrival of strong Santa Ana winds. Firefighters told the Los Angeles Times they were preparing for a difficult week, considering a forecast of unusually high winds, extreme heat and low humidity through the end of the week.
“We’re in triple-digit temperatures and single-digit humidities … and it’s beginning with a bang here,” said climatologist William Patzert of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. “There’s not much good news.”
The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning Tuesday for mountains and canyons in Southern California. The warning was extended through Thursday, prompting U.S. Forest Service officials to delay their containment date for the massive Station Fire near Los Angeles until the warning expires, the Times said.
Late Tuesday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared Ventura County a disaster area.
County Sheriff’s Department officials had said the Guiberson fire was started by spontaneous combustion of cow manure at a ranch but the Times said the cause of the fire was still being investigated.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International