Despite red flag warnings in the area being extended another day, firefighters were able to raise containment on the destructive Easy Fire to 80% Friday, officials said.
Meanwhile, the flames’ forward progress was halted at 1,860 acres, the Ventura County Fire Department said.
The blaze forced thousands to flee their homes after igniting around 6:10 a.m. Wednesday at the northwest edge of Simi Valley.
It wound up consuming at least two houses on a Simi Valley ranch occupied by three generations of one family. The Casas Rodriguez family told KTLA they’d moved in just nine months ago.
On Thursday, all evacuations were lifted and schools were set to reopen — shortly before the Maria Fire erupted nearby in Santa Paula and rapidly spread overnight. By Friday afternoon, thousands more Ventura County residents were evacuated and the blaze stood at about 9,000 acres with 0% containment.
With most resources being reallocated to the larger blaze, fire officials said only eight firefighters remain assigned to the Easy Fire, looking out for flare-ups and mopping up hot spots.
The fire’s cause remains under investigation, but Southern California Edison has confirmed it began near active power lines. Surveillance video from a commercial loading dock appears to show a power line spark seconds before the blaze spread across hillsides.
The flames broke out amid an extreme Santa Ana wind event that’s now forecast to continue until 6 p.m. Saturday, after the National Weather Service had earlier predicted gusts would subside by Thursday evening.
Red flag warnings were extended for mountain areas in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, Ventura County valleys and the Santa Clarita Valley.
However, winds were expected to be much less strong than they were earlier in the week. Gusts were expected at up to 35 mph, while winds had topped 75 mph on Wednesday.
Red Flag Warnings extended through 6 PM Sat for LA/Ventura mtns, Santa Clarita Valley, and Ventura County Valleys (including #MariaFire). Northeast winds gusting 25-35 mph with single digit RH's to continue at times through Sat. #LAWeather #cawx #Socal pic.twitter.com/LXTUaZTCbk
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) November 2, 2019