Report and photo by Logan Hall
Dozens of firefighters and emergency personnel including the Sheriff’s Department helicopter responded to a grass fire near the Krotona Institute just before noon Friday. According to Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Anthony Romero, fire crews gained control of the fire at about 1:15 p.m. just before the fire reached buildings in the area of Krotona.
The trademark blue and yellow Sheriff’s Huey helicopter piloted by Deputy Jim Dalton made four water drops after filling up the chopper’s tanks at the pond at Rancho La Vista. “We saw where the hand crew was working to the east,” said Dalton after landing safely back at Camarillo Airport. “We cut it off on the west end and worked toward the guys on the ground to help them out.”
VCFD Captain Chris Dunbauld was working as the fire crew chief for Dalton as the helicopter swooped in to make its drops and says that the close proximity of the pond was a major factor in how quickly the fire was contained. “With our ability to take water from the pond,” said Dunbauld, “we could make such a quick turn around that we were able to make some quick drops to buy time for the ground crews. If we don’t have a dip site close by, we rely on the engine companies to fill us up. With the pond nearby, we’re fully self-contained.”
About five acres were burned in the large field next to Highway 33 approaching Krotona before responding units were able to contain the blaze. Although Romero says the cause of the fire has yet to be determined, eyewitnesses reported that the fire had started under an electrical pole in the middle of the field. “I thought maybe there were people smoking cigarettes at the phone pole,” said passerby Ruben Silva. “Then there was too much smoke so I told my daughter to call 911.”
Silva’s daughter Laura luckily had a cell phone with her as the two rode past the scene on the bike trail. “We were riding by,” she said, “and my dad was like, ‘look at all the smoke,’ so I called 911.”
Romero said that 15 emergency units had responded to the fire including, along with Ventura County Fire, crews from Ventura City Fire Department, Cal-Fire and the U.S. Forest Service. No injuries were reported and the blaze was contained before any structures were damaged.
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