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Ventura County fire slows; Moorpark no longer at risk

September 24, 2009 |  6:05 pm

Firefighters battling the 16,400-acre Guiberson fire in Ventura County took advantage of relatively light winds today to attack flare-ups emerging on the northeast edge of the three-day-old blaze.

From the tiny Piru community east of Fillmore, a giant column of smoke could be seen throughout the day as air and grounds crews worked to halt the flames’ advance, said Capt. Ron Oatman, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

But, for the most part, the fire has slowed considerably and is no longer posing a threat to Moorpark, Somis and other communities on its southern flank, Oatman said. All evacuation and road closures have been canceled except for one small area near Somis, he said.

“We’re right on track," he said. “We had the weather we expected today — hot and dry. And the wind wasn’t as bad as it could have been.”

More than 1,800 firefighters have joined the battle, including a large contingent of air tankers and helicopters dousing flames in hot spots. The cost to fight the fire so far is $3.4 million, authorities said.

Eight firefighters have suffered minor injuries, mostly from heat exhaustion and sprained ankles.

“It’s hot, it’s steep, it’s rugged terrain,” Bill Nash, another Ventura County fire spokesman. “They’re in steep terrain and all the injuries are consistent with the terrain.”

As the fire fight continued in Ventura County, crews battling the month-old Station fire in the Angeles National Forest said they expected to reach full containment late today.

Aircraft were patrolling the interior of the 160,577-acre blaze to extinguish hot spots that remain in steep and rugged terrain that can’t be reached by ground crews.

Mop-up crews are continuing to strengthen containment lines to reduce the risk of embers reigniting brush during hot, dry and gusty conditions, fire officials said.

The Station fire, which killed two Los Angeles County firefighters, was ignited Aug. 26 by a suspected arsonist, and a homicide investigation is underway.

—Catherine Saillant in Ventura County and Raja Abdulrahim in Los Angeles