CAMARILLO, Calif. — It seemed that each time wind-driven embers sparked new blazes or a wall of fire leaped a Southern California hillside and came charging toward hundreds of homes, an army of firefighters was right there to either douse or direct the flames away from humanity.
As a result, the fire that broke out Thursday quickly moved through the Camarillo Springs area without destroying a single home.
Firefighters were hoping for the same success on Friday, as the fire raged out of control miles away near the coast.
Fifteen structures in the area 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles sustained some damage, and other homes in a wooded area were being threatened Friday by the blaze that had roared across 43 square miles. Some 900 firefighters using engines, aircraft, bulldozers and other equipment had it just 20 percent contained. Since daybreak, the fire has nearly tripled in size.
"That's the way this fire has behaved, it has been a very fast-moving, feisty fire," said Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash.
To the north of the fire, parts of the Newbury Park community of Thousand Oaks are under mandatory and voluntary evacuations, Nash said.
Overnight, Nash said firefighters plan to stockpile resources along a road that lies between the fire and Malibu, protecting homes on the fire's eastern front.
Of the thousands of homes threatened by flames, 15 have been damaged.
The good fortune of the Camarillo Springs area wasn't the result of luck or clairvoyance by firefighters. It came after years of planning and knowing that sooner or later just such a conflagration was going to strike.
"When developers want to go into an area that is wild-land, it's going to present a unique fire problem," county fire spokesman Tom Kruschke said. "And you have to be prepared for that."