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Shifting Winds, Popup Hot Spots Hamper Efforts To Contain 9,000 Acre Brush Fire In Ventura County

The Maria Fire has been burning in rugged mountain areas, making it tough to contain.

A nearly nine thousand acre brush fire is burning out of control in Ventura County, with hot spots popping up and creating extra problems for firefighters. The Maria Fire started just after six p.m. Thursday on South Mountain. It began on the mountaintop, where there a number of broadcast and communication facilities. The flames were visible for miles.

The fire burned down the sides of the mountains in different directions, moving towards Santa Paula, Ventura, and Somis. Firefighters are trying to keep the blaze in a box ordered by Highway 126, the Santa Clara River, South Mountain Road, and Campanula Avenue. It's the same strategy they used to keep the Easy Fire in Simi Valley from spreading into neighborhoods.

About 11,000 people have been impacted by mandatory evacuation orders, with some 1800 structures considered to be at risk. Three structures have been lost.  The wind has been decreasing, but with dangerously low levels of humidity the Red Flag Warning has been extended from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 Saturday.  There's currently 0% containment.

Peak gusts could be in the 25 to 35 mile an hour range, which is about half of what the region had earlier this week. Still, the potential exists to create problems for the firefighters battling the Maria Fire, and also to trigger new blazes.

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.