The wildfire, expected to grow to 10,000 acres, poses a growing threat to oil fields, power lines and agricultural sites.
The 9,700-acre Guiberson fire in Ventura County is 20% contained, but firefighters expect the blaze to grow to 10,000 acres before the day is over as it threatens oil production fields, power lines and agricultural sites, officials said today.
At a news conference, fire experts said winds have increased significantly since 9 a.m. and are up to 12 mph with gusts to 21 mph. The winds were calmer than they were at midday Tuesday when gusts of more than 50 mph were recorded.
Flying tankers attacked the flames on the western and eastern flanks of the fire, which is about five miles north of Moorpark College. The fire is threatening oil production fields and five 220-kilovolt power lines that supply Ventura and Santa Barbara with electricity, said Nick Schuler with CalFire. (A previous version of this post erroneously said an above-ground gas line was threatened.)
The fire also prompted the closure today of Moorpark College and two elementary schools, Walnut Canyon and Campus Canyon.
"We don’t want these kids out, especially with those elements," said Mike Mohler, a spokesman for CalFire.
The cause of the fire, which started Tuesday, is still under investigation, but Ventura County Sheriff’s Department officials have said it appeared to have been started by spontaneous combustion of manure from a local ranch.
Officials did not disclose exactly where the fire started or how. But spontaneous manure fires are fairly common in farm communities, often occurring during conditions of extreme heat. Temperatures around where today’s fire started near Fillmore topped 100 degrees.
In 2005, it took months to fully contain a manure fire that broke out at a feed lot near Lincoln, Neb. A man was killed earlier this year in Texas on a fire later blamed in part on animal waste placed in bags in a truck.
Manure becomes volatile as it decomposes. Gases, including methane and hydrogen sulfide, are naturally produced as the animal waste breaks down.
As weather becomes hotter, methane becomes highly combustible, which can cause the manure to spontaneously explode and sometimes catch fire.
Since methane is lighter than air, it builds up on top of unvented areas, such as in closed pits. All areas with manure should be ventilated to prevent explosions.
There you go!! A fire update and a science lesson in one post!! Weather conditions should improve tomorrow and by next week the temps should be in the mid-70’s.
Pretty soon I’ll be complaining about too much rain…. NO I WON’T!!
Take care and be safe.
PS: That Station fire from two months ago is still burning. Over 300 sq miles so far.