The Latest: California wildfire grows, threatens 6,500 homes

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):

10:30 a.m.

A wind-driven wildfire burning northwest of Los Angeles has grown to 1,300 acres (526 hectares).

The Ventura County Fire Department says the blaze is threatening 6,500 homes.

The fire erupted before dawn Wednesday between the cities of Simi Valley and Moorpark, It has been spread by strong Santa Ana winds.

Flames have approached the hilltop Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, but a spokeswoman says no damage has occurred.

Helicopters and airplanes are dropping water and fire retardant as some 800 firefighters battle the flames on the ground.


9:20 a.m.

A spokeswoman for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California says the complex has not been damaged by a nearby wildfire that has grown to more than 970 acres (392 hectares).

Melissa Giller says the fire came within about 30 yards (27 meters) of the complex Wednesday morning but that it has been protected by aerial water drops and a firebreak, a gap of cleared vegetation that functions as a barrier to stop wildfires.

Giller says a herd of a goats is brought in annually to eat the vegetation and create the firebreak.

The fire erupted before dawn as strong winds hit Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles.

Flames are pushing through sparsely developed hills between suburban tracts. Horses are being evacuated from small ranches.


9:15 a.m.

Several dozen people fleeing the Southern California wildfire have arrived at an evacuation shelter set up in a community center in the city of Thousand Oaks.

The brush fire broke out just before dawn Wednesday near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in the Simi Valley area north of Los Angeles.

Red Cross spokesman Tom Horan says people are confused and scared as they arrive at the shelter, some wearing masks.

They registered with shelter staff amid the banging of cots being set up and food and water being carried inside.

Horan says the shelter can accommodate about 380 evacuees during the day and about 180 overnight. Pets must be kept outside in crates.


8:30 a.m.

Officials say a new wind-driven wildfire in Southern California near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library has grown to more than 400 acres (162 hectares) since it started just before dawn.

The Ventura County Fire Department says the fire is being fanned Wednesday morning by strong Santa Ana winds.

The fire erupted between the cities of Simi Valley and Moorpark, northwest of Los Angeles.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered and multiple school districts have announced school closings.

Firefighting aircraft are dropping water and fire retardant on the blaze.

A library spokeswoman has said firefighters are protecting the complex.


7:50 am.

Fire officials are reporting progress in their battle against a massive wildfire in wine country north of San Francisco.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the 120-square-mile (310-square-kilometer) fire in Sonoma County is 30% contained early Wednesday. That’s up from 15 percent containment Tuesday evening.

The latest damage assessments show that 206 structures were destroyed, including 94 homes. Another 40 structures have been damaged, including 27 homes.

Most of the 90,000 structures still threatened by the fire are homes.

In Southern California, firefighters are battling a new wind-driven fire near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library northwest of Los Angeles.

A library spokeswoman says firefighters are protecting the facility and that it is safe.


7:20 a.m.

A spokeswoman for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library says it is being protected by firefighters as a wind-driven wildfire burns nearby in hills northwest of Los Angeles.

Melissa Giller said Wednesday morning that the hilltop library in the city of Simi Valley is safe as the fire burns between Simi Valley and Moorpark, where evacuations have been ordered.

Giller says the portion of the library closest to the fire is a pavilion housing a former Air Force One aircraft.

The portion of the library housing archives faces away from the fire.

Giller says hundreds of goats are brought in each year to the library grounds as a fire prevention method so they can eat away vegetation that can fuel wildfires on the undeveloped portions of the 300-acre (121-hectare) property.


6:40 a.m.

A large new wildfire has erupted in Southern California as strong Santa Ana winds blow through the region and officials ordered mandatory evacuations.

Television images showed the fire burning before dawn Wednesday in the Simi Valley area about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Ventura County officials have tweeted that the brush fire is large without providing more details on its size and say it is burning between the cities of Simi Valley and Moorpark.

Mandatory evacuations were issued but officials did not say how many people were subject to the orders.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is in the vicinity.


6 a.m.

Fire danger warnings blanket a large swath of California because of gusty winds and extremely dry air.

The National Weather Service says Santa Ana winds developed more slowly than expected in Southern California but strong gusts topping 50 mph (80 kph) are being reported early Wednesday.

So far, the winds have stayed away from the section of Los Angeles that burned Monday in the Getty fire, where there’s concern that smoldering embers could be carried away by gusts and start new fires.

In Northern California, winds are beginning to decline, but forecasters warn that fire danger remains.

The weather service says winds topped out near 70 mph (112 kph) at the highest elevations north of San Francisco Bay, where firefighters are battling the destructive Kincade Fire in the Sonoma County wine country.


10:43 p.m.

Californians are facing winds, wildfires and darkness from yet another power outage for more than 1 million people.

Pacific Gas & Electric is blacking out about 1.5 million people in some 30 counties to prevent high winds from toppling power lines and sparking fires. It’s the third shutoff in a week.

A fire in northern wine country and another in the wealthy Brentwood area of Los Angeles have burned dozens of homes. Both were driven by strong winds.

The Sonoma County area was hit by gusts of 30 mph (48 kph) or more Tuesday but firefighters report little growth in the blaze, with winds were expected to ease Wednesday.

But in the south, forecasters say hot, dry Santa Ana winds through Thursday could bring gusts of 50 to 80 mph (128.7 kph) at times.

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