OPERATION TORCH CALIFORNIA: Maria Fire “Explodes” in Ventura County

Maria Fire Explodes To More Than 8,000 Acres Overnight


Smoke from the Maria Fire billows above Santa Paula, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. Calmer weather allowed crews to increase containment on wildfires after a three-week siege of gusts fanned blazes across California and led utilities to cut power to prevent winds from blowing branches into electric lines and igniting an inferno. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A fast-moving fire broke out on Halloween night in Ventura County exploded to more than 8,000 acres overnight, prompting mandatory evacuation affecting at least 7,500 people. Many nearby school districts have cancelled classes due to this fire.

The Maria Fire is burning in a mountain area between Santa Paula and Somis, a ranching and farming community. The fight against the fire was hampered late Thursday when authorities grounded air support for the fire after a drone was discovered flying in the fire zone.

In better news, fire officials said they did not believe the Maria Fire would grow as large as 2017’s Thomas Fire that burned for nearly 40 days and ate throughabout 282,000 acres — or 440 square miles.

Based on the Maria Fire’s location, which started on a ridge, fire authorities said they believed the fire will run out of fuel at some point, burning at most about 12,000 acres.

The Maria Fire started just after 6 p.m. on South Mountain and authorities warned that the fire was spreading rapidly. It was 0% contained as of early Friday. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Maria Fire evacuation zone as of early Friday. See the latest map >>


Crews continue to work amid dangerous weather conditions. A red flag warning was extended through 6 p.m. Friday, with winds expected up to 25 mph, with gusts of up to 35 mph, and single-digit humidity, according to the National Weather Service

“Offshore wind speeds are expected to peak at the fire location this morning when ridgetop winds will gust as high as 30 mph,” VCFD officials said.

RELATED: California Fires Are Getting Worse. What’s Going On?


  • Acres burned: 8,730
  • Containment: 0%
  • Structures threatened: 1,800
  • Structures destroyed: 2
  • Injuries: None yet reported
  • Resources deployed: More than 500 firefighters


Mandatory evacuation orders are in effect in the following area:

  • North Boundary : South Mountain Road
  • West Boundary: West Los Angeles Avenue
  • East Boundary: Balcom County Road
  • South Boundary: Highway 118


  • South Mountain Road between 12th Street and Balcom Canyon
  • Berylwood Road at Aggen Road
  • West La Loma Road between Center Road and Walnut Avenue
  • Price Road at E. Los Angeles Avenue (Highway 118)
  • Clubhouse Drive at E. Los Angeles Avenue (Highway 118)
  • La Vista Avenue at W. Los Angeles Avenue (Highway 118)

Firefighters work to control flames from a backfire during the Maria Fire in Santa Paula on Nov. 1, 2019. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)


For people:

  • Camarillo Community Center: 1605 Burnley St., Camarillo

For animals:

  • Camarillo Animal Shelter (Small Animals): 600 Aviation Dr, Camarillo
  • Ventura County Fairgrounds (Large Animals): 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura
  • Earl Warren Showgrounds (Large Animals): 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara

In addition, Ventura County will be distributing N-95 masks at:

  • Camarillo Community Center: 1605 Burnley St., Camarillo
  • Santa Paula Hospital: N. 10th St., Santa Paula



Jacob Margolis


In an orchard at the . Was told by Hector, the irrigation manager, that some avocado trees had burned down last night. There was a huge group of workers ready to go in and repair/adjust irrigation lines as the fire progressed away from the bulk of the property.

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School Districts

  • Briggs School District
  • Hueneme Elementary School District
  • Mesa Union School District
  • Mupu School District
  • Oxnard Union High School District
  • Santa Clara Elementary School District
  • Santa Paula Unified School District
  • Ventura County Office of Education Schools [Exceptions: ACCESS, Ojai TEAMS, Providence School and Triggs School]

Charter Schools

  • ACE (Camarillo)
  • Univerity Preparation (Camarillo)


Jacob Margolis is reporting from the fire zone. KPCC news producers Emily Henderson and Briana Flores are reporting from the station. Ryan Fonseca is keeping this story updated.


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