Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Wildfire prompts some Ventura County residents to evacuate [Updated]

September 22, 2009 |  2:37 pm

Some Ventura County residents have started evacuating as a fast-moving wildfire continues to move toward Moorpark.

Rancher Tom Pedersen and his wife, who live on Guiberson Road near where the fire started this morning, said the 2003 Shekell fire burned across the street from their house and that they didn’t want to take any chances.

A wall of black smoke and orange flames could be seen above the mountain across the road from the couple's home.

“We’re just going to take our medicine and our clothes and get out,” he said. “In fact, I’ve got to go right now.”

Another rancher, Brett Everts, who lives along Grimes Canyon Road, was walking his quarter horse, Scooter, about a mile up the smoky roadway to another ranch, where it was safer. He said he had already evacuated eight horses and two cats.

“I still have 100 head of cattle in the pasture,” he said. “But I can’t do anything about that. They’ll be OK. They just move away from the heat.”

Everts said this was the third time he has had to evacuate animals in recent years because of wildfires.

The fire started about 10:30 a.m. off of Guiberson Road in the Shiells Canyon area and has burned about 300 acres, said Fred Ponce, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department. The cause of the fire is unknown, he said.  


"There’s not a lot of vegetation," Ponce said. "But we’ve got a lot of grass and with these winds it will burn real quick."

[Updated, 4 p.m.: Although sheriff’s deputies had recommended that they leave the area, Tom and Jan Pedersen decided to stay put as the fire burned right across the street from their home on Guiberson Road. The roadway served as a fire break.

The couple, wearing dust masks, were hosing down the roof on their ranch house this afternoon as remnants of the fire continued to burn nearby.

“When our avocado orchard erupted they came and hit it with water drops,” said Jan, visibly shaking. “We’re OK. We’ve been here before and we think we’ll be safe again.” ] 

-- Catherine Saillant