MOORPARK, Calif. (AP) – A fire driven by strong Santa Ana winds Sunday destroyed five homes and a storage building and endangered hundreds of others in canyons and hillsides, authorities said.

The blaze burned about 4,100 acres, or six square miles, destroying five homes and damaging five others, Ventura County Fire Capt. Barry Parker said. Fire officials called for voluntary evacuations as hundreds of residents packed up valuables while dozens of trailers used to transport livestock were lined up on a road.

“The sheriff’s said if you see flames, leave,” said Dave Hare, who was at a home on the site of a recycling business he owns.

Some residents, however, stayed put and said they saw flames as high as 35 feet. In one neighborhood, the fire came within 100 yards of homes.

“I’m kinda nervous,” said Arturo Huerta, 88, who got on top of the family’s home with hose in hand and watched for burning embers.

The blaze began at 2:30 a.m. and burned through heavy brush, eucalyptus groves and orchards in the northwest section of Moorpark, about 29 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Several hundred firefighters were hampered by 70 mph winds that were expected to last through the end of Sunday. Water-dropping helicopters also were used.

“We are in a structure protection mode,” Parker said. “It’s smoky, it’s dusty and it’s hard to breathe.”

There was no containment figures and no injuries were reported.

Another blaze began about 7 a.m. near Moorpark, but fire officials later classified both fires as a single blaze known as the Shekell incident, although they were a couple of miles apart. A third fire burned south of Camarillo and was expected to be contained at 30 acres, authorities said.

In Riverside County, firefighters gained control of a wildfire that burned 100 acres of hillside brush. The fire, which began late Saturday near a high school in Norco, was fanned by strong winds and caused one minor injury to a firefighter.

The causes of the fires were under investigation.


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