Update 7:29 a.m. Firefighters made progress overnight. The Springs Fire is holding fast at 28,000 acres and containment has been increased to 30 percent. Cooler temperatures and higher humidity are expected to help firefighters the rest of the weekend.
"We have a very favorable forecast today. The highs will be in the mid-70s and the humidity will be 25 percent. That is huge" said Bill Nash, spokesperson for the Ventura County Fire Department.
Firefighters will continue to set backfires and focus on cutting lines around the blaze. Nash says there are still 8 miles of line to be cut before officials will say they have full containment. If the weather persists, that could happen on Monday.
Pacific Coast Highway has reopened, but road closures remain in effect for Protero road, Deer Creek road and Yerba Buena road. Evacuation orders are still in effect for those areas
In Newbury Park, evacuation orders have been lifted. Residents with valid ID are allowed back in.
The Springs Fire has damaged 15 homes. There have been two injuries, one to a civilian, the other to a firefighter. The injuries occurred at a traffic collision near the blaze.
There are nearly 1,900 personel assigned to the blaze. That's double the amount of firefighters from Friday. Crews are coming from all over the state.
- Kristen Muller
According to the Ventura County Fire Department, the focus of overnight firefighting will be a concentrated attack in the Yerba Buena Road area.
Pacific Coast Highway was scheduled to reopen at 5 p.m., but was not reopened due to concern about rock slides, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. It remained closed between Las Posas and Yerba Buena.
— Mike Roe
Update 5:16 p.m.: The Camarillo Springs Fire, which has burned 18,000 acres, is starting to show some good signs, according to Capt. Mike Lindberry of the Ventura County Fire Department.
"We do have some actually good signs with this fire. One: Our humidity is going to be increasing quite a bit with our temperatures dropping," Lindberry said.
Authorities are also prepared to let some residents return to their homes.
"We're in the process right now of revising a lot of [evacuations]," Lindberry said. "As soon as we have that firm, we're going to be making a press release and probably quite reducing a lot of the area."
The fire moved Friday in ways that firefighters expected, according to Lindberry.
"We've had a 180 degree wind shift on this fire today, as we expected, and this fire did what we expected — in certain areas, it started burning back," Lindberry said.
— Shirley Jahad with Mike Roe
Update 5 p.m.: The Pacific Coast Highway was scheduled to reopen in both directions amidst the Camarillo Springs Fire, according to the Ventura County Fire Department, though many cross-streets remain closed.
The Southern California wildfire burning through coastal wilderness has nearly doubled in size since morning, growing to more than 28 square miles.
— KPCC with AP
Update 4 p.m.: The immense Camarillo Springs Fire in Ventura County burned through coastal wilderness to the beach on Friday, then stormed back through canyons toward inland neighborhoods when winds reversed direction, the Associated Press reported.
The wind shift forced fire commanders to order a new evacuation of homes in a Thousand Oaks neighborhood along a two-mile stretch of road overlooking smoke-filled coastal canyons.
Fears arose after gusty Santa Ana winds from the northeast faded and ocean breezes from the southwest pushed inland.
The "worst-case weather scenario" sent flames ripping through fresh fuel just to the east of where the blaze charred wildlands a day earlier, said Ventura County fire spokesman Bill Nash.
"In the perfect scenario we'd just hope for the wind to go away, but what happened is the wind just turned around," Nash said.
CalFire reported the following update on the Springs Fire:
- Size: 18,000 acres
- Containment 18,000 acres: 20 percent contained
- Structures Destroyed: 15 damaged residences, 5 damaged commerical properties, and 15 damaged outbuildings.
- Threatened: 4,000 residences, 300 commercial properties and 50 outbuildings are threatened.
- Evacuations: Mandatory evacuations effective immediately: South Newbury Park area, South of Potrero Road from Reino Road East to 930 West Potrero Road including Hidden Valley Road South.
- Cooperating Agencies: Fire Departments from across Southern California, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, CHP, many other agencies.
- Total Fire Personnel: 954
- Engines: 90 Engines
- Fire crews: 20 Fire Crews
- Airtankers: 6 Airtankers
- Helicopters: 8 Helicopters
- Water tenders: 2 Watertenders
Evacuations remain in effect for Potrero Road to Lewis Road, Yerea Buena Road and Deer Creek Road, Sycamore Canyon, Brrome Ranch and La Jolla Canyon.
Evacuations for the Cal State Channel Islands and Dos Vientos area have been lifted and reopened to residents only.
Update 2 p.m.: The Ventura County Fire Department ordered evacuations of areas imperiled by the rapidly shifting Camarillo Springs Fire:
Update - IMMEDIATE EVACUATIONS!South side of Potrero Rd. from Reino Rd. east to 930 W. Potrero Rd., including Hidden Valley Rd. south.— Ventura County Fire (@VCFD) May 3, 2013
New evacuations were ordered in a neighborhood overlooking canyons where flames are surging, the Associated Press reported.
The Ventura County Fire Department called for residents to immediately leave homes along a two-mile length of Potrero Road on the southern edge of city of Thousand Oaks.
KPCC reporter Stephanie O'Neill says the area being evacuated is filled with smoke and nestled in the canyons making it difficult to get around.
Update 12:06 p.m.: The air attack on the Springs Fire now consists of eight water-dropping helicopters and six fixed-wing air tankers dropping fire retardant, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.
The National Weather Service is also reporting a preliminary record high temperature on Friday in Camarillo of 96 degrees — breaking the old record of 92 set in 1970.
UPDATE - The air attack on the Springs Fire now consists of 8 water-dropping helicopters and 6 fixed-wing air... fb.me/2sLSqcA46— Ventura County Fire (@VCFD) May 3, 2013
Newbury Park resident Kenny Hussain told KPCC's Stephanie O'Neill that he was surprised to see that the fire had returned Friday and expressed concern for the welfare of his home.
"I just took a picture 20 minutes ago, and this street was wide open with no firemen — and now there's 30 trucks here," he said. "I guess this happened before we moved here back in the '80s, and this whole field here that we are looking at was engulfed."
UPDATE 8:07 a.m.: Firefighters battling the Springs Fire say they will be at "Mother Nature's mercy" as they try to contain the fast moving flames.
About 4,000 Ventura County homes have been threatened and evacuations remained in force in some areas as the fire line edged southwards toward Malibu. It was about 20 miles from the coastal enclave at daybreak.
"We're going to be at Mother Nature's mercy," Ventura County fire spokesman Tom Kruschke said.
There's still a chance of "explosive fire spread" before winds begin tapering off in the afternoon and cooler weather begins to kick in, said Curt Kaplan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Oxnard.
The weather forecast called for parching single-digit humidity, highs in the 90s in some fire areas and morning winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph – slightly down from a day earlier.
The wind-whipped fire erupted Thursday in the Camarillo area, damaging 15 homes and a cluster of recreational vehicles in a parking lot.
The blaze was 10 percent contained but the work of more than 900 firefighters and deputies was just beginning, fire officials said.
You can follow Twitter feeds from KPCC reporter Stephanie O'Neill below, along with updates from the Ventura County Fire Department and others tracking the #SpringsFire. (Just hit the "Click Here" button.)
PREVIOUSLY: A wildfire burned overnight into Friday morning in coastal Ventura County after torching more than 15 square miles as it reached the Pacific Ocean. Crews are bracing for another day of gusting winds and hot weather before cooler weather enters the region in the evening.
The flames reached Pacific Coast Highway and burned an estimated 10,000 acres and had forced the evacuation of a university and thousands of people from hundreds of homes, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.
The blaze was 10 percent contained, but the work of more than 900 firefighters and deputies was just beginning, Ventura County fire Capt. Bill Nash said.
The fire that begun in Ventura County has been running down coastal canyons all night along the Pacific Coast Highway toward Malibu. Fire spokesman Tom Kruschke says there's effectively a vast field of coals behind the flaming edges that could flare up when winds return.
Forecasters say winds gusting to 45 mph will hit Friday morning but will taper off in the afternoon and cooling may begin by evening.
"We know the fire is continuing to grow," Nash said about 3 a.m. Friday. But he added that firefighters won't be able to determine how much until it can be checked by a helicopter during daylight.
"The bottom line is that it's burning to the coast and it's burning toward Malibu," he said, noting the leading edge of the blaze was still about 20 miles from the town.
Nash said gusts of nearly 30 mph were still being reported near the coast late Thursday, and the National Weather Service said strong Santa Ana winds and extreme fire danger would remain in the region through Friday.
Some 2,000 homes were threatened. Despite the fire's size and proximity to populated areas, no houses had been destroyed, though 15 were damaged and a cluster of recreational vehicles in a parking lot was destroyed by flames.
There were no reports of injuries.
After reaching the highway, the fire began burning along the seaside roadway south toward Malibu. Planes and helicopters dropped water and retardant until they were grounded by darkness.
The day began with a staggering drop in humidity, a plunge from 80 percent to single digits in less than an hour caused by withering winds out of the northeast and temperatures in the 90s.
The fire erupted during morning rush hour along U.S. 101 in the Camarillo area about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and winds pushed it down slopes toward subdivisions, soon forcing evacuations of residents in Camarillo and Thousand Oaks.
Marie Turner, 45, was among the displaced at an evacuation center in Thousand Oaks as flames skirted the home her family moved into from Texas less than a year ago. She said in a phone interview she had given little thought to wildfires and worried about an entirely different kind of California threat.
"I'd always heard about earthquakes, it was a big fear of mine before we moved here," said Turner.
She said she was frightened but didn't regret the move.
"I'm very positive about being here, and we're trying to make the most of it," said Turner.
The smoke-choked campus of California State University, Channel Islands was evacuated, and classes were canceled for Thursday and Friday. The school has about 5,000 students, though only a fraction live on campus.
About 100 miles to the east in Riverside County, two homes were destroyed, two more were damaged and 11 vehicles were destroyed in a 12-acre fire that fire officials suspect was started Thursday by a discarded cigarette.
Elsewhere in the county, a 4 1/2-square-mile blaze that destroyed a home burned for a second day in mountains north of Banning. It was 65 percent contained.
In Northern California, fire in Tehama County continued to grow, consuming 10,000 remote acres north of the town of Butte Meadows. No homes were threatened and it was 10 percent contained.
- Thousand Oaks Community Park, 2525 N. Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks
- Calvary Community Chapel, 380 Mobil Avenue in Camarillo
- Camp Bow Wow in Agoura Hills is housing cats and dogs free of charge for evacuees. Pets can stay overnight. Call (818) 889 - CAMP for more information.
- The Camarillo and Simi Valley animal shelters are also accepting small animals, according to Ventura County Animal Services.
- The Agoura Animal Care Center is hosting evacuated animals. Call them at (818) 991-0071.
- Thousand Oaks Community Center Park is doing the same. Their number: (805) 381-2793
Southern California wildfires:
View Wildfires across Southern California, May 2nd in a larger map
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Pacific Coast Highway had reopened; it was scheduled to reopen but had not yet as of that time.