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Voluntary evacuations underway in Ventura County brush fire

July 13, 2010 |  5:17 pm

Voluntary evacuations were underway Tuesday afternoon for two neighborhoods threatened by a brush fire burning in Camarillo.

As fire crews battled the blaze from the ground and the air, residents in about 55 homes in Camarillo's Highlands neighborhood and the nearby community of Somis were told to prepare for possible mandatory evacuations, the Ventura County Fire Department said.

Officials said the homes in Highland are in the immediate fire area. Residents in the Grove Place neighborhood of Somis are on a ridge north of the blaze but were told to prepare to evacuate because the area is home to a number of ranches with horses and other animals.

"We're giving them advance warning to start moving," Capt. Ron Oatman said in a telephone interview from the scene.

More than 250 firefighters are at the scene or were responding to the blaze, which broke out shortly after 3 p.m. and has burned about 45 acres. The fire started in dry brush near Ocean View Drive.

Oatman said two air tankers were battling the flames and another two tankers have been ordered up. The fixed-wing aircraft were being aided by at least two water-dropping helicopters.

"We're making a good, aggressive attack," he said.

Temperatures Tuesday afternoon were in the upper 70s and the wind was blowing out of the west at about 5 mph, officials said.

-- Robert J. Lopez

Photo: Residents watch the plume from a brush fire at East Loop Drive and Mesa Drive in Camarillo Heights. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times