SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - A new, wind-driven wildfire broke out Wednesday morning north of Los Angeles and forced the evacuation of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as well as homes in nearby neighborhoods, officials said.
The blaze, which is being called the Easy Fire, was reported around 6 a.m. local time in Simi Valley, located about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The fire began near the 118 Freeway and Madera Road, located just miles away from the library, and was threatening 6,500 homes, officials said.
Firefighters battle to protect the Reagan Library from the Easy Fire in Simi Valley, California on October 30, 2019. (Photo by MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)
The Ventura County Fire Department issued a mandatory evacuation for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, as well as surrounding areas.
Melissa Giller, a spokesperson from the Reagan Library, said the library was closed Wednesday due to the conditions created by the blaze. She added that the fire burned within 30 yards of the campus.
"These museums are made to withstand earthquakes and fires," said Giller. "So on the firefront, we have fire doors that, God forbid a fire was to breach any of our property, the doors close that trap the fire in or out depending upon what side it's on, so that it actually can't spread any further."
Officials said the wildfire was initially reported at an estimated 15 acres and had grown to around 1,300 acres, being pushed west by Santa Ana winds. The National Weather Service said gusty winds developed more slowly than expected on Wednesday, but were topping 50 mph in some areas.
Three strike teams with the Los Angeles Fire Department were sent to the area to assist Ventura County firefighters amid the ongoing wind conditions.
Smoke from the “Easy Fire” can be seen surrounding the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. (Photo credit: FOX 11 Los Angeles)
By the evening hours, firefighters had slowed the growth of the blaze and crews were attacking hotspots within the 2.5-square-mile fire.
All evacuation orders remained in place, and Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said there was still a risk of gusts carrying embers into nearby homes. At least two structures were destroyed, but it was unclear if they were homes.
As of Wednesday, firefighters were battling 11 active fires across California — including a blaze that erupted Monday near the Getty Center in Los Angeles.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed to this report.