STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Wildfire erupts near Reagan library in Southern California

A new wildfire erupted Wednesday in wind-whipped Southern California, forcing the evacuation of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and nearby homes.

Posted: Oct 30, 2019 11:36 AM
Updated: Oct 30, 2019 11:41 AM

By MARCIO SANCHEZ and GREGORY BULL Associated Press

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — A new wildfire erupted Wednesday in wind-whipped Southern California, forcing the evacuation of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and nearby homes, as both ends of the state struggled with blazes, dangerously gusty weather and deliberate blackouts.

Driven by powerful Santa Ana winds, the brush fire broke out before dawn between the cities of Simi Valley and Moorpark north of Los Angeles and exploded to more than 1,300 acres (526 hectares), threatening 6,500 homes, Ventura County officials said.

Library spokeswoman Melissa Giller said around midmorning that the hilltop museum in Simi Valley was not damaged. She said that the flames came within about 30 yards (27 meters) of the property but that it was protected by aircraft dropping water and by a firebreak, or a buffer zone cleared of brush.

Hundreds of goats are brought in each year to eat away vegetation that could fuel wildfires on the 300-acre (120-hectare) grounds, Giller said. Reagan and his wife, Nancy, are buried next to each other on a hillside at the library.

Helicopters and airplanes attacked the blaze as some 800 firefighters battled it on the ground. The flames pushed through sparsely developed hills between suburban tract developments. Ranchers rushed to evacuate horses, goats and other livestock.

Wind gusts up to 68 mph (109 kph) were reported in the area, forecasters said. Other spots elsewhere in Southern California were buffeted by even stronger winds. The wind knocked over a truck along a freeway in Fontana.

Meanwhile, frustration and anger mounted across Northern California as Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the state's largest utility, undertook its third round of sweeping blackouts in a week, hoping to prevent its electrical equipment from toppling or coming into contact with branches and sparking fires.

More than 900,000 people were without power Wednesday, some of them since Saturday, by PG&E's estimate.

Across the darkened neighborhoods, people worried about charging cellphones and electric vehicles, finding gasoline and cash, staying warm and keeping their food from spoiling. Some ended up at centers set up by PG&E where people could go to power their electronics and get free water, snacks, flashlights and solar lanterns.

With no electricity for the fourth straight day, chef and caterer Jane Sykes realized she would have to throw out $1,000 worth of food, including trays of brownies, cupcakes and puff pastry. She also had little hope of getting a good night's sleep — there was no way to run the machine she relies on to counter her apnea.

"I don't think PG&E really thought this through," she lamented.

PG&E officials said they understood the hardships caused by the blackouts but insisted they were necessary.

In wine country north of San Francisco, fire officials reported progress in their battle against a 120-square-mile (310-square-kilometer) blaze in Sonoma County, saying it was 30% contained.

The fire destroyed at least 206 structures, including 94 homes, and threatened 90,000 more, most of them homes, authorities said. More than 150,000 people were under evacuation orders.

Winds topped out at 70 mph (112 kph) north of San Francisco Bay and began to ease early Wednesday, but forecasters said the fire danger would remain high because of continuing breezes and dry air.

In Southern California, fire crews continued trying to snuff out a wildfire in the celebrity-studded hills of Los Angeles that destroyed a dozen homes on Monday. About 9,000 people, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and LeBron James, were under evacuation orders.

That fire was caused when a dry branch from a eucalyptus tree was flung 30 feet (9 meters) by high winds into a city Department of Water and Power line and caused sparks, authorities said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti called it an "act of God." The city had cut away brush and trees from around the line, officials said.

The National Weather Service issued an extreme red flag warning for high winds for much of Southern California through Thursday evening, with some gusts expected to reach 80 mph (130 kph). It could be the strongest bout of winds in years.

No deaths have been reported from the fires, but toppled trees claimed three lives.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and top utility regulators have accused PG&E of mismanaging its power system and failing for decades to make the investments needed to ensure it is more durable.

PG&E President Bill Johnson said he talked to the governor and agreed to give customers affected by an Oct. 9 blackout a one-time credit on their bills, but he did not say how much.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 10395

Reported Deaths: 215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah252969
Marion166148
Washington162020
Clackamas86125
Umatilla7726
Union3561
Lincoln3464
Lane2283
Deschutes2210
Malheur2161
Polk16012
Linn1579
Jackson1520
Yamhill1398
Jefferson1340
Klamath1301
Morrow1071
Benton955
Hood River940
Wasco941
Josephine561
Clatsop540
Douglas510
Columbia420
Coos420
Lake210
Tillamook150
Crook130
Wallowa100
Curry80
Baker50
Sherman30
Gilliam10
Grant10
Harney10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 271035

Reported Deaths: 6441
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1165703534
Riverside20555486
Orange17882366
San Diego16726387
San Bernardino15345269
Imperial7190117
Alameda6855140
Fresno611077
Santa Clara5408164
Kern536982
Tulare5009136
San Joaquin447455
Sacramento423669
San Francisco399250
Contra Costa387885
Ventura378950
San Mateo3599108
Santa Barbara326129
Marin280921
Kings267333
Stanislaus266045
Monterey215115
Solano147625
Sonoma135911
Merced127211
Placer91111
San Luis Obispo7652
Yolo67726
Madera5785
Santa Cruz4593
Napa4364
San Benito2732
Sutter2523
Lassen2420
El Dorado2260
Butte2063
Shasta1544
Humboldt1444
Nevada1291
Yuba1282
Glenn1220
Lake961
Tehama881
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Del Norte581
Calaveras530
Mono471
Tuolumne430
Amador330
Inyo331
Siskiyou320
Mariposa311
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 64°
Brookings
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 59°
Crater Lake
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 52°
Grants Pass
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 63°
Klamath Falls
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 52°
Warming up the rest of the week
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events