SPFD responds to Fillmore fire

July 03, 2015
Santa Paula News

Santa Paula Fire was among the responders at an early morning fire at a vacant property in Fillmore, an incident that SPFD Chief Rick Araiza said points out the importance of mutual aid.

A structure fire was reported about 3:35 a.m. early Tuesday morning in the 500 block of Kensington Drive.

Fillmore Fire and Ventura County Fire responded to the scene but Araiza said Santa Paula “was almost the first one, we were right after Fillmore’s,” volunteer firefighters who arrived at the residence that was burning hot.

“The fire had already burned into the attic,” and was making progress in spreading but once attacked was knocked down in about 45 minutes.

Engine companies protected neighbors’ houses as they fought the blaze. No one was injured in the fire, which appeared to be accidental but the exact cause is being investigated.

Araiza said the SPFD Firefighters remained with others on scene “for almost six hours...that is part of our mutual aid.”

Without mutual aid last week’s River Fire, which broke out Monday, June 22 at about 1 p.m. near Acacia Road, “Would have been much, much worse…that fire burned 168 acres,” in a short period of time consuming thick dry thatches of arundo donax, an invasive ornamental bamboo. 

Although in an unincorporated area the fire was a strong threat to Santa Paulans: the blaze threatened residences on either side of the riverbank as it burned to the east.

The fire — which sent flames as high as 40-feet in the air — was finally stopped in the area of Dove Court in the Lemonwood Industrial Park, just west of Hallock Drive. 

During the fire several surface streets and Highway 126 exits were closed as was South Mountain and Balcom Canyon roads. 

About 150 firefighters from various agencies responded to the fire, which due to the smoldering of arundo root systems took several days to be declared completely extinguished.

One Santa Paula Firefighter received minor injuries in the fire when he stepped into an ash pit and his boots caught fire. The cause of the blaze was determined to be human but it is not yet known if it was deliberately set or an accident.

Araiza said the River Fire, “Was a $500,000 fire…there was no way we could have handled it alone. With mutual aid we had scores of firefighters from all over, hand crews, water dropping helicopters, fixed wing aircraft dumping retardants on the flames…you just don’t survive without mutual aid.”

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