The Easy Fire that started around 6 a.m. in Moorpark today has exploded in hot, windy conditions. Ventura County Fairgrounds maxed out its large animal capacity, and evacuees and their horses are now coming to Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara. Evacuees are asked to call the Santa Barbara Equine Evacuation & Assistance nonprofit at (805) 892-4484 before bringing their horses.
Rhonda Hathaway, who is vice president for the Equine Evacuation team, said owners are bringing animals from Simi Valley and Moorpark. “It’s a mutual aid situation with Ventura County Animal Services,” she explained, “and we just opened at Earl Warren.” Already, the showgrounds at Las Positas and the 101 Highway is housing 10 horses, she said. Despite the showgrounds’ financial ills, it continues to donate the space.
Some people came with their dogs, Hathaway said, and she sent them to the animal shelter at 5473 Overpass Road. The shelter hadn’t had any animals brought in yet, they said. The Humane Society next door stated they were prepared to accept adoptable cats from Ventura, to make space for evacuees in the Ventura shelter, but they didn’t yet know if they would come.
As many as 26,000 people are reportedly evacuated in the Moorpark, upper Simi Valley area, which includes the Ronald Reagan Library. The Easy Fire ringed the library, which has apparently survived.
The critical-fire-wind map for Southern California is largely red, and the winds in Ventura this morning were reportedly so strong they were shaking buildings. Gusts are currently reported as high as 44mph on the Newhall Pass and at 52mph in the Malibu Hills.
National Weather Services forecasters called “Extreme” Red Flag conditions for Ventura and Los Angeles counties today for the first time. The Easy Fire was at 1,300 acres, fire officials announced at a noon press conference. It quickly outflanked the resources that had been prepared since Tuesday night, given the expected winds, which were blowing at 40-50mph with gusts up to 65mph this morning. Several outbuildings had burned so far, and one house was reportedly burned on Tierra Rejada Road.
With high winds forecast over the next 24 hours, firefighters were prepared for further evacuations and maneuvers if the fire threatened to cross State Route 23 and toward Thousand Oaks.