SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) — A fast-moving vegetation fire erupted on the hillsides above Simi Valley on Wednesday morning amid extreme red flag conditions, prompting evacuation orders and school closures as it spread to 200 acres.
The so-called Easy Fire began shortly after 6 a.m. near the 200 block of West Los Angeles Avenue. Homes in a nearby residential neighborhood appeared to be threatened by the flames, but the winds initially seemed to be blowing the fire in a direction away from houses. At least one fire helicopter was seen performing water drops on the blaze.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for an area bounded by Tierra Rejada to the north, Madera Street to the east, Olsen / Madera Street to the south and Highway 23 to the west, according to an alert from the Ventura County Fire Department.
An evacuation shelter was established at the Thousand Oaks Community Center at 2525 N. Moorpark Road.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or structural damages.
Firefighters raced to protect the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as a thin wall of flames approached from a nearby hillside. The facility was closed Wednesday.
The cause of the fire was unknown.
The incident forced the California Highway Patrol to close California 23 (the Moorpark Freeway) in both directions between Avenida de los Arboles and Los Angeles Avenue.
All schools in the Simi Valley and Moorpark unified school districts were closed Wednesday, according to the Ventura County Office of Education.
Santa Ana winds were expected to reach speeds of 40-50 mph in the burn area on Wednesday, with gusts of up to 60 mph on ridgetops, the National Weather Service said. Single-digit humidity was forecasted throughout the day.
DEVELOPING: More details will be added to this report as they become available.
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