A new wildfire erupted Wednesday in wind-whipped Southern California, forcing the evacuation of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and nearby homes, as both ends of the state struggled with blazes, dangerously gusty weather and deliberate blackouts.
Driven by powerful Santa Ana winds, the brush fire broke out before dawn between the cities of Simi Valley and Moorpark north of Los Angeles and exploded to more than 1,300 acres (526 hectares), threatening 6,500 homes, Ventura County officials said.
Library spokeswoman Melissa Giller said around midmorning that the hilltop museum in Simi Valley was not damaged. She said that the flames came within about 30 yards (27 meters) of the property but that it was protected by aircraft dropping water and by a firebreak, or a buffer zone cleared of brush.
Hundreds of goats are brought in each year to eat away vegetation that could fuel wildfires on the 300-acre (120-hectare) grounds, Giller said. Reagan and his wife, Nancy, are buried next to each other on a hillside at the library.
Helicopters and airplanes attacked the blaze as some 800 firefighters battled it on the ground. The flames pushed through sparsely developed hills between suburban tract developments. Ranchers rushed to evacuate horses, goats and other livestock.
Wind gusts up to 68 mph (109 kph) were reported in the area, forecasters said. Other spots elsewhere in Southern California were buffeted by even stronger winds. The wind knocked over a truck along a freeway in Fontana.