A wind-driven wildfire raged along the California coast north of Los Angeles early on Friday, threatening some 3,000 homes and prompting evacuations of a university campus and several residential areas.
The so-called Springs Fire, which engulfed several farm buildings and recreational vehicles but so far has destroyed no homes, had consumed 8,000 acres of dry, dense chaparral and brush by late Thursday, fire officials said.
“But it has continued to burn very strongly overnight. We know that that number is low at this point,” said Bill Nash, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.
The blaze erupted Thursday morning beside the U.S. 101 freeway, less than 10 miles inland from the Pacific coast. Fanned by hot, dry Santa Ana winds, it reached the Pacific Coast Highway by evening and was burning south toward Malibu, Nash said.
More than 900 firefighters battled the flames, and officials estimated the fire was 10 percent contained as of late Thursday. They had successfully kept it from reaching a number of ranches and vacation properties in the area, Nash said.
“We expect the air attack to resume as soon as it’s light enough for the pilots to see and, at that point, we’ll have a better idea of what the fire did overnight,” Nash said.
Evacuations ordered for the California State University at Channel Islands campus remained in effect on Friday, according to the school’s website. All classes and activities were canceled.
A smaller blaze east of Los Angeles in Riverside County on Thursday destroyed two houses and damaged two others before firefighters halted its spread, and at least five additional wildfires burned in northern California.
The outbreak of brush and wildfires marked a fierce start to a fire season in California that weather forecasters predict will be worsened by a summer of high temperatures and drought throughout much of the U.S. West.