Huge blaze shuts down California coastal highway

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, May 2, 2013 18:54 EDT
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California wildfire via AFP
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A wildfire forced the closure of a section of California’s scenic coastal highway Thursday, as authorities ordered residents to evacuate from advancing flames and canceled classes.

The blaze fanned by strong winds ravaged hillsides and canyons in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, threatening homes around the towns of Newbury Park and Camarillo, north of Malibu.

An eight-mile (13-mile) section of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) was closed from about 10 miles west of Malibu due the Camarillo Springs fire, the California Highway Patrol said on its Twitter feed.

California State University at Channel Islands announced it was canceling all classes and activities at its Camarillo site “due to the (fire) and heavy smoke drifting onto the campus.”

Live TV pictures showed flames and smoke billowing up from the tinder-dry hillside above the Dos Vientos neighborhood of Newbury Park, where residents were ordered to evacuate.

Helicopters could be seen drawing water from a nearby lake to drop on the flames, in video shown by KTLA 5 television.

Wildfires are common across the western United States in the summer, and in southern California are often fanned by strong offshore Santa Ana winds that more typically blow up in the fall and winter.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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