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Fire Tears Through Point Mugu State Park

Point Mugu State Park has not burned since 1996, according to California State Parks.

5:31 a.m. Friday update: A quick assessment of the Sycamore Campground showed no structures burned, including picnic benches, according to Craig Sap, Superintendent of California State Parks Angeles District.  

Sap said nearly half of the vegetation burned and he is unsure how long it will be until the campground will reopen.

"[There was] no damage to Thrornhill Broome campground or Sycamore Cove Day use area ... Unknown if damage to La Jolla Day Use area," he said.

11:01 p.m. update: Craig Sap of California State Parks says of the Sycamore Canyon Campgrounds: "The State Park Maintenance and Caltrans maintenance shops were saved as well as the nearby Nature Center. Also, the structures in the campground may have been spared."

10:55 p.m. update: The vegetation around Sycamore Canyon was burned, but firefighters were able to protect the facilities, according to State Parks.

Update at 9:11 p.m.: The Springs Fire spread to the Sycamore Canyon campgrounds Thursday night, according to California State Parks.

"We just lost Sycamore Canyon Campground," Craig Sap, State Parks Superintendent for the Angeles District, told Malibu Patch. "The fire swept down the canyon with such velocity there was no opportunity to defend."

Update at 7:21 p.m.: The fire made its way through Sycamore Canyon in Point Mugu State Park Thursday, according to Craig Sap, California State Park Superintendent for the Angeles District.

Sap wrote:

Danielson Ranch appears to have been spared, but the abandoned residences and out buildings at Ranch Center have burned. MRCA and Ventura County fire resources are in lower half of Sycamore Canyon where if conditions warrant they may make a stand setting back fires in hopes of stopping the fire from reaching Sycamore Canyon camp ground. Unknown how many acres of State Park property have burned.

Original post: A massive, wind driven brush fire headed into Point Mugu State Park, west of Malibu Thursday as rangers warned hikers to stay out of the back country, according to a California State Parks official.

The 6,500-acre fire, called the Springs Fire, broke out just before 6:30 a.m. Thursday and continued spreading, threatening homes and other structures. As firefighters focused on structure protection, California State Parks rangers worked to clear the park of all back country hikers.

"The idea based on wind patterns and fire behavior is it’s going to enter into La Jolla Canyon," Craig Sap, California State Parks Superintendent for the Angeles District told Malibu Patch. "There are two paths to the coast, La Jolla Canyon and Sycamore Canyon. If it gets over the ridge, it will go down the coast."

Pacific Coast Highway was closed from Yerba Buena Road to Las Posas Road because of the fire for several hours. (Follow live updates on conditions here.) Rangers stationed themselves at entrances to the back country to keep hikers out, Sap said.

Earlier, rangers searched within the park for hikers who parked along roads for a day hike, he said. The rangers all have fire training.

Only one vehicle was found near La Jolla Canyon and rangers were looking for that hiker, according to Sap.

"We’re hoping once the sun goes down that coastal influence will come in and the humidity will go up and the wind will die down," Sap said.

Sap said fire officials told him the first priority is structure protection.

"Once they have that under control, they will deal with the wild land aspect of the fire," Sap said.

He said rangers are also prepared to help Ventura County Fire officials with any possible evacuations around Leo Carrillo and along Yerba Buena Road.

The last time Point Mugu State Park burned was in 1996, Sap said, adding that fire is part of nature.

"We never look forward to fires," Sap said. "Fire is natural. Unfortunately, maybe this one is unnatural, but it does provide a benefit to the environment."

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Mike Delane May 02, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Hikers should register on-line with California State Parks before hiking away from public roads. Just their names, phones numbers and when & where they will be hiking. Most phones have GPS now so it would be much easier to warn and/or find people as needed. Mike
Lauren May 03, 2013 at 12:42 AM
Does anyone have a better idea of air conditions at Leo Carrillo State Beach? We were supposed to be camping there this weekend, and was told by a park employee that it was fine earlier this afternoon, but would love to hear an update. Its hard to tell how close anything is from the maps.
Marianne Riggins May 03, 2013 at 03:52 AM
all depends on the wind, right now it is still in Ventura Co., but it could move to the south and east very easily.
Reiu K May 04, 2013 at 03:04 AM
please give us an update of the conditions up there.

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