Mandatory evacuations were ordered Wednesday morning in Southern California as a rapidly moving wildfire ignited and burned in Simi Valley, near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library — but the library’s importing of hundreds of goats to eat nearby vegetation may have helped keep the building shining — and not flaming — on a hill.
The Ventura County Fire Department said the so-called Easy Fire was reported around 6 a.m. in the 200-block of West Los Angeles Avenue located near the 118 Freeway and Madera Road in Simi Valley, located northwest of Los Angeles.
The blaze was initially reported at 15 acres and started in an area near power lines before rapidly spreading to around 1,300 acres and being pushed by ferocious Santa Ana winds, according to fire officials.
The Ventura County Fire Department issued a mandatory evacuation for an area that included the Reagan Library as flames appeared to be burning mostly vegetation north of the library, located close to some residential areas. Some 6,500 homes were threatened by the blaze, according to fire officials.
A spokesperson from the Reagan Library said the hilltop library will be closed Wednesday due to the conditions created by the blaze. Firefighters and trucks surrounded the library, with protection measures taken on the Air Force One-side of the facility, according to a spokesperson.
Reagan Library Executive Director John Heubusch told FOX11 the blaze was “circling the library” and that fire crews were “fighting it as best they can.”
“It’s the closest this library has ever come to this danger,” he told FOX11. “So this is really serious stuff. So far, they seem to be on top of it.”
Reagan Presidential Library spokeswoman Melissa Giller told the Associated Press the fire came within about 30 yards of the complex, but the building has been protected by aerial water drops and a firebreak, a gap of cleared vegetation that functions as a barrier to stop wildfires.
Giller told the AP the portion of the library housing archives faces away from the fire.
Giller added that hundreds of goats are brought in each year to the library grounds as a fire prevention method so they can eat away vegetation that can fuel wildfires on the undeveloped portions of the 300-acre property.
Large flames could be seen moving up hills, fanned by high winds through sparsely populated areas. Aircraft dropped water and fire retardant on the blaze, and fire officials said the flames were being pushed away from the library by strong Santa Ana winds blowing from inland California toward the coast.
The National Weather Service has issued a rare “extreme red flag warning” from 11 p.m. Tuesday to 6 p.m. Thursday for much of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties due to the Santa Ana wind event that “could be one of the strongest of recent memory.” A combination of gusts up to 80 mph in mountains and some valleys with humidity levels in the single digits may lead to “a remarkable and dangerous event” across Southern California before conditions improve.
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
We encourage you to share and republish our reports, analyses, breaking news and videos (Click for details).
Contributed by Sean Walton of The Daily Sheeple.