The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 05/5/2013 11:40 AM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 05/7/2013 7:27 AM
CAMARILLO, Calif. - Rains moved across Southern California on Monday, dousing remnants of a wildfire that blackened thousands of acres in coastal mountains and bringing much-needed moisture to a region left parched by a dry winter.
The 44-square-mile burn area in the western Santa Monica Mountains was 85 per cent surrounded, and firefighters worked in muddy and slippery conditions to complete containment.
Ventura County Fire spokesman Tony McHale said the wet weather significantly reduced fire activity. There were no remaining open flames, but firefighters remained on the lookout for flare-ups, he said.
The rains were expected to continue, and the fire was expected to be contained, on Tuesday.
The showers, heavy at times, marked a complete reversal of conditions that rapidly spread the blaze after it erupted early Thursday along U.S. 101 near the communities of Camarillo Springs and Thousand Oaks.
Dry and gusty Santa Ana winds blew in from the northeast toward the coast that morning, sending relative humidity levels plunging to single digits as temperatures soared into the 90s. With seasonal rainfall levels running only about a third of normal, vegetation was already dead or dry and ready to burn.
Investigators ruled out arson as the cause of the fire. Instead, they believe it was started by an undetermined roadside ignition of grass and debris on the edge of U.S. 101, said Tom Piranio, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
"The topography plus the hot, windy weather created a perfect storm for the fire to spread fast," he said.
The fire threatened 4,000 homes but damaged only 15 as it swept past neighbourhoods and into Point Mugu State Park, which sprawls over peaks and canyons down to scenic Sycamore Cove on the Pacific shoreline.
State parks District Superintendent Craig Sap said more than 85 per cent of the 22-square-mile park burned, and the result was somewhat disorienting with the absence of familiar vegetation revealing previously hidden features.
"It's a stark landscape," he said.
A preliminary assessment of losses included a building, an electrical distribution system, campground vegetation and signage. Sap estimated the total damage at $290,000.
Despite the likelihood of rock falls, runoff problems and damage to fire roads, Sap noted that a silver lining of the fire would likely be sprouting of some species whose seeds are triggered by fire.
"There are plants you never see until you have a fire like this," he said.
The National Weather Service said showers and temperatures as much as 10 degrees below normal would last into Tuesday.
In Northern California, meanwhile, a fire that has blackened 11 square miles of wilderness in Tehama County was 80 per cent contained and was no longer an imminent threat to structures.
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Boil-water advisory lifted in Winnipeg
Highway 59 reopened after pickup truck collision
Flyers best Jets 5-2
Residents to pay less for heat after PUB approves decrease in natural gas rates
Manitoba one of worst places for natives: reports
78 minutes: average wait for patient control to move from ambulance to ER
Power 97 FM is changing on Friday and it has something to do with denim
Banks predict loonie slide to continue
Youth who stormed Dutch broadcaster claimed to be hacker
Pay cuts for Alberta premier, cabinet
Flu vaccine offered little or no protection
American Super Bowl ads coming to Canadian TV
20 Manitobans may be eligible for MS Society's clinical trials for stem cell treatment
Taxi driver acquitted of sexual assault
Tims cuts 350 at HQ and regional offices
Gas blast wrecks Mexico children's hospital, killing 3
Gang member faces prison time for part in vicious assault on woman
Missing man, 36, last seen in West End
Rally to highlight 17-year boil water advisory in Shoal lake
Bomber GM gambles on development with Watson trade
Bjornson wants surplus funds directed to classroom, hold down taxes
$1-M boost for Eureka
WAA reports record year for passengers at airport
Wife of Saudi blogger asks for Harper's help
Comedian Andy Kindler at Park Theatre in March
Three charged after string of break-ins
'Take a breath, boil some water'
Day to promote awareness of mental health raises $6M
Selkirk RCMP arrest four following commercial robberies
Noël Coward: Renaissance man about town
Gear up for blast of traditional January weather
Garden City residents feeling the power again
Charles Townes, who helped invent now-ubiquitous laser, dies
Winnipeg radio stations lay off four on-air personalities
'Thorn Birds' author Colleen McCullough dies at 77
'Are you kidding me?'
A Happy Light just isn't enough
Coward comedy's flights of fancy don't quite get off the ground in well-meaning production
Meet Coco: potentially China's next Li Na