Monday, December 04, 2006

Moorpark (Shekell) Fire

I am updating this post periodically. Updates are in blue.

Most of you have probably heard about the fire that is blazing through the Moorpark area.

For detailed information on evacuations, road and school closures from the sheriff's department, visit this website.

Update: I got an e-mail from KNBC that they are running a live stream of continuing coverage and raw video from the fire. I checked it and it was last night's coverage but they told me the chopper is refueling and live stream will be back up soon. Here's the link. (10 AM - 5 PM)

It is fire season and it seems like in each of the last several years there's been at least one fire right around here that puts us all on edge. In the so-called Shekell fire (named for the road where it started), several homes and buildings have already been lost and thousands are still threatened as it continues to burn and the Santa Ana Winds continue to move it through the fuel filled brush areas.

Embers fly in this photo of the building and property of MGR Design going up in flames. (L.A. Times)

Moorpark Country Club

The fire went right through my favorite local public golf course, Moorpark Country Club. Sunday morning around 8:00, golf pro Leo Lee closed up shop as the Sheriff's department recommended evacuations in the area.

This morning, Moorpark CC seems to be out of harm's way as the fire has moved along to torment other areas. The golf course sustained damage to scrub brush and it's still very smoky so only a skeleton crew is on location and no golfers are around. The roads are closed and it's unsafe to be outside breathing all the particulates. Even without a fire, golfers would be scarce because of the insane winds.

I actually had a tee-time at Moorpark on Saturday morning and opted out with the rest of my foursome because the wind was blowing us away as we stood there and discussed whether or not to play. Gusts to 70 mph - sustained winds probably around 40-50. No thanks. But punishing winds are merely an inconvenience for golfers.

Those are the same conditions that make the fires nearly impossible to fight. Firefighters can't stand steady with their hoses and helicopters can be grounded (they're up right now). Small aircraft has difficulty staying on course to land their targets with water. However, when they need water, they can use water hazards at the area golf courses to fill up their tanks.

Residents evacuate at the north end of Valley Road in Moorpark. (L.A. Times)

Update: I got an e-mail from Steve Vigiano, the Director of Golf at Moorpark CC. He says: "We are fine. Just some minor fire damage to the brush on the Canyon and Ridgeline side of the course. We have been closed for the past 2 days [and] we will be open tomorrow. I have heard that Rustic Canyon had a lot of damage to the Native areas. I believe that the course is OK. There is no way to communicate with Rustic right now."

Rustic Canyon Golf Course

Another fire that is part of the Shekell blaze burned through Happy Camp which is the location of Rustic Canyon Golf Course. I have tried to contact them this morning for an update but have been unable to reach anyone there. Perhaps the power and phone lines are down there. I'll continue to try and post an update when I have more information. If anyone knows anything, please post a comment here.

Update: I got through to their phone number and heard the message that they are closed due to the fire and directing people to call later in the week when the phone service will be available. No report is given on the message about damage to the course.

Don't be stubborn (and stupid)

It was reported on the news that many people in the area are refusing to evacuate their homes. Everyone, please be safe. Stuff is just stuff. Get your animals, hard drives, hard to replace documents, photos, mementos and golf clubs and just get out. Those embers are flying and it's still really dangerous out there.

A word to the local news stations:

It sure would be nice if you could display an accurate map of the fire areas and where the firelines are. Last night I was watching the news and one of the stations showed an actual image of the fires with an overlaid map of the area. According to that map, I was on fire. If you're going to do it (and you should), do it right!

Update: Here are a few more links posted by reader "ELY" in the comments section. I thought I'd put them here for easier access:
Ventura County Star's Affected areas map
Ventura County Star's Wind map
Ventura County Fire Department

Update: As of 7:00 AM this morning (December 5), the fire is 80% contained and the fire department expects full containment by 6:00 PM tonight.

Next post.


Patricia said...

That's a very sobering post. We New Englanders always envy you folk out in CA but never think of your vulnerability to these frightning fires. Keep safe and we're wishing you the best for a quick end to this.

Golfchick said...

Thanks, Patricia. It's very sad for the people who lose their homes. So far there have been only minor injuries and one fatality - a pet pigeon - as far as I know.

There are a lot of horse properties in the area and all of the dogs and horses have been safely evacuated. They show them on the news and the poor horses look so scared!

ELY said...

Hi Kristen -
I've been referring to the Ventura County Fire Department page at http://fire.countyofventura.org

I've also been following the coverage via http://www.venturacountystar.com and using the updated affected areas map at http://web.venturacountystar.com/sitegraphics/daily/shekellfire120306.jpg and the wind map at http://web.venturacountystar.com/sitegraphics/daily/gShekellweather.jpg

Unfortunately, the initial circumstantial evidence would lead one to conclude that these two fires were intentionally set, given their initial proximity to remote canyon roads - I hope I'm wrong, but if I'm right, I hope they deal with the perps in the most severe way possible...it makes me sick to think of the wild animals in the canyons, and this always happens just before rainy season, too...

ELY said...

I also forgot to mention that it's ironic that the fire area is bordered by three of our favorite golf courses, Elkins Ranch Golf Course on the north, Moorpark Country Club on the west, and Rustic Canyon Golf Course on the east.
Rustic Canyon has had a REALLY tough go of it since it has been opened, as it has been damaged by the fires and floods of '05.
Another resource that is too close to the fire for comfort is the Balcom Canyon Pet Lodge, which is one of the nicest boarding facilities in the area.
I pray that they and their animal charges are all safe and out of harms way...