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Authorities Say New Ventura County Brush Fire Grows Quickly; Could Scorch 12,000 Acres

(Photo courtesy Fady Shenoda)
The Maria Fire as seen from downtown Santa Paula Thursday night

A brushfire which started in the mountains of central Ventura County Thursday night quickly grew to 4,000 acres, and could get much bigger, but firefighters reassured residents it doesn't have the potential to become a monster blaze like the 2017 Thomas Fire.

The Maria Fire started just after 6 p.m. on South Mountain, in the area containing some broadcast and communications towers.  The wind quickly spread the flames, and because of its location, firefighters couldn't easily fight it.

By 3 a.m. it had grown to 8300 acres, burning to the foothills on eastern side of Santa Paula, and the western side of Moorpark.  Ventura County fire officials say with limited fuel in the area and improving weather conditions, the blaze probably won't have the ability to get much larger than 12,000 acres.

Some 7500 people are in the mandatory evacuation area around the fire.  About 1800 structures are considered threatened, but there's no word of any homes being destroyed or damaged.

Firefighters focused on evacuations and protecting structures during the overnight hours, but were able to use bulldozers and night flying helicopters to try to stop the flames in key areas.

Several school districts have announced they will cancel all classes and activities Friday due to the Maria Fire, and the ongoing threat of public safety power outages.  You can find a list at

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.