VENTURA COUNTY (KTLA) — A new brush fire broke out Thursday night atop South Mountain, just south of Santa Paula and has rapidly burned nearly 4,000 acres, authorities said.
The Maria Fire was reported at about 6:30 p.m. atop the mountain, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.
Firefighters were attempting to keep the flames boxed in south of the 126 Freeway, north of the 118 Freeway, East of Vineyard Avenue and west of Balcom Canyon Road.
Firefighters were working to stay between the advancing fire and homes on both the Somis side, to the south, as well as the Santa Pauls side, to the north, Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Steve Kaufmann said.
Helicopters attacked the flames with water drops as firefighters on the ground got in place to protect structures, particularly agricultural properties in the threatened area of Somis, as the flames continued expanding.
Winds of 20 to 30 mph were pushing the head of the fire to the west, toward the Santa Clara River, according to Kaufmann. Firefighters conducted several rescues to assist residents get out of the path of the fire.
About 250 firefighters were assigned to the Maria Fire, along with three helicopters, more than 30 fire engines and two bulldozers, officials said.