Fires Driven by Winds Threaten Homes in California

December 4, 2006

A trio of fires driven by strong Santa Ana winds broke out Sunday morning, endangering dozens of homes in canyons and on hillsides, authorities said.

Fire officials called for voluntary evacuations in Ventura County, where 50 to 75 homes were threatened. The fire, which broke out around 2:30 a.m., had burned about 500 acres, or about three-quarters of a square mile, said Ventura Country Fire Capt. Barry Parker.

“The fire is right in there among them,” Parker said.

Elsewhere, another fire in Moorpark had burned 100 acres by early Sunday, and a third had burned up to 10 acres. More than 800 firefighters were deployed to fight the blazes.

This year’s wildfire season in the U.S. was the most severe — and expensive — on record. As of Dec. 1, fires had burned more than 9.5 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The U.S. Forest Service has said it spent $1.5 billion fighting those fires — about $100 million over budget.

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