Fire forces evacuation of campus, homes in Calif.

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 2, 2013 at 11:58 pm •  Published: May 2, 2013
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A wildfire fanned by a long day of Santa Ana winds raged along the edges of Southern California communities and coastal highways Thursday, forcing the evacuation of a university and hundreds of homes and threatening 2,000 more, officials said.

The blaze erupted during morning rush hour along U.S. 101 in the Camarillo area about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. It was quickly spread by winds, which also pushed other damaging blazes across the region.

Flames quickly moved down slopes toward subdivisions, and about 8,000 acres — or 12½ square miles — had burned, fire spokesman Bill Nash said.

By sunset firefighters had the blaze 10 percent contained and some residents were allowed to return home, but a late surge sent flames over ridges overlooking the ocean and down to Pacific Coast Highway, 10 miles from where the blaze had begun earlier in the day.

The fire met the seaside highway, which had been closed for the second time in a day shortly before, in a relatively undeveloped area, but fire officials worried it would burn along the road and the adjacent hillside into populated areas.

"This fire is a long way from out," Nash said. "It is still growing."

The surge toward the ocean also brought a new round of evacuations in nearby neighborhoods.

Marie Turner, 45, was among the displaced at an evacuation center in Thousand Oaks as flames skirted the home she, her husband and her daughters moved into from Texas less than a year ago. She said in a phone interview that they had given little thought to wildfires and feared 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 fire was threatening 2,000 homes, Nash said. None had been destroyed but 15 were damaged and a cluster of RVs in a parking lot was destroyed by flames.

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.

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