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Spontaneous combustion of manure caused Ventura County fire

September 22, 2009 |  3:49 pm


The Ventura County Sheriff's Department said a 1,500-acre wildfire threatening homes in Moorpark started through "manure spontaneous combustion from a local ranch."

Officials did not disclose exactly where the fire started or how. But spontaneous manure fires are fairly common in farm communities, often occurring during conditions of extreme heat. Temperatures around where today's fire started near Fillmore topped 100 degrees.

In 2005, it took months to fully contain a manure fire that broke out at a feed lot near Lincoln, Neb. A man was killed earlier this year in Texas on a fire later blamed in part on animal waste placed in bags in a truck.

More than 300 firefighters were on the scene, trying to prevent the blaze from hitting subdivisions in Moorpark. Evacuations have been ordered north of Broadway and east of Grimes Canyon, and in the Happy Camp Canyon and Shekell Road areas.

Officials said numerous structures are threatened, as well as power lines and agricultural areas.

--Ruben Vives in Ventura County