Maria Fire Containment Rises to 70% After Evacuees in Santa Paula and Neighboring Areas Return Home

A firefighter controls a hotspot of the Maria Fire, in Santa Paula, Calif. on Nov. 2, 2019. (Credit: APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

A firefighter controls a hotspot of the Maria Fire, in Santa Paula, Calif. on Nov. 2, 2019. (Credit: APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

As residents in Santa Paula and neighboring areas returned to their homes Saturday, firefighters continued working to extinguish the Maria Fire and managed to get it 70% contained by Sunday morning.

The wildfire tore through 9,412 acres and destroyed two structures before reaching 30% containment by Saturday evening, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. Its containment rose by morning after firefighters worked through the night, putting out any remaining hot spots.

Cooler temperatures and lighter winds helped the firefight overnight, fire officials said, but a critically dry air mass bringing possible fire dangers is expected to remain over the region for another 12 to 24 hours.

All evacuation orders were lifted at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

More than 7,000 people in Santa Paula, Somis and areas of eastern Ventura were evacuated within just hours of the fire erupting Thursday night. It was reported about 6:15 p.m. atop South Mountain.

Within about a day, the Maria Fire scorched more than a dozen square miles. Fire officials said it burned through 10,700 acres by Friday night but changed that number to 9,412 acres the following morning.

It has not spread further since and no injuries were reported.

Fire officials have previously said three structures were destroyed but their latest update indicates only two.

Authorities announced Sunday that eight schools within the Ventura Unified School District would be closed Monday due to ash and debris on the campuses.

The closed campuses were to include:

  • Juanamaria Elementary
  • Portola Elementary
  • Citrus Glenn Elementary, Montalvo Arts Academy
  • ATLAS Academy of Technology and Leadership at Saticoy
  • Junipero Serra Elementary
  • Balboa Middle School
  • Mound Magnet for Science and Global Citizenship

“All other schools had minimal to no ash and will be open,” the Ventura Police Department said in a written statement.

KTLA’s Brian Day contributed to this report.

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