Springs Fire burns through Sycamore campgrounds at Point Mugu

Beth Milliken took this photo of the Camarillo fire from Miramar Drive. 

Update, Friday, 8 a.m.: The Springs Fire is still burning in Sycamore Canyon at Point Mugu State Park, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. No State Parks structures have been damaged. 

Update, Friday, 7 a.m.: Half of the vegetation at the Sycamore campgrounds burned, according to Craig Sap, but all structures were spared as the Springs Fire tore through Sycamore Canyon at Point Mugu State Park on Thursday afternoon. 

Unsure how soon the campground will reopen,” Sap said in an email. “No damage to Thrornhill Broome campground or Sycamore Cove Day use area.  Unknown if damage to La Jolla Day Use area.”

The Springs Fire has burned 10,000 and continues growing with just 10 percent containment, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. It’s estimated to be 7 or 8 miles from Malibu. 

Update, 10:15 p.m.: Vegetation at Sycamore campgrounds burned, but it appears firefighters were able to save bathroom structures, according to State Parks Supt. Craig Sap.

“I’m hoping that the damage is such that we’re able to open up the campgrounds again rather quickly,” Sap said. “But I haven’t seen it yet.” 

Sap also said fire crews were able to save Caltrans and State Parks maintenance yards, where both agencies keep cars and mechanic equipment for repairs. Before firefighters set up a defensive at the maintenance areas, State Parks was able to move the cars out of the yards.

“We were able to remove the vehicles and we moved them across the street to Sycamore Cove,” he said. 

Sap, who lives near the Ventura County line and north of Mulholland Highway, said he was packing his belongings in case he needs to evacuate, though he doesn’t expect to have to leave his home.

Update, 9:07 p.m.: The Springs fire has burned through Sycamore Canyon at Point Mugu State Park and through campgrounds located at Sycamore Canyon and Pacific Coast Highway. The fire is now threatening several structures in the area, an official confirmed.

Burning for nearly 15 hours, the Springs fire has threatened 2,000 houses, damaged 15 and destroyed 25 non-residential structures, the Ventura County Star reported.

District Supt. Craig Sap said it’s not yet known how much of the Sycamore campgrounds were damaged by the fire. 

“We don’t know exactly what’s there and what’s not burned,” Sap said.

Sap said firefighters are now battling to protect maintenance yards belonging to Caltrans and State Parks near Sycamore Canyon.

“They’re trying to find a hydrant down there,” Sap said.

Update, 6:14 p.m.: An estimated 500 acres of Point Mugu State Park have burned in the Camarillo fire, State Parks District Supt. Craig Sap said.

The fire burned through Ranch Center in Point Mugu (near Newbury Park) and Sycamore Canyon. He estimated the fire was six or seven miles away from the coast as of 6:15 p.m.

Although winds died down Thursday evening, Sap said he still fears strong gusts could pick up and quickly burn down to the Pacific coastline, where dozens of campsites, maintenance buildings and restroom facilities could fall victim to the flames.

“If the wind picks up and comes down [the canyon], it’ll be terrain driven, and it can shoot down that canyon in a matter of hours,” Sap said. “But if the wind behaves and fire behaves, it can slow down to a crawl and maybe burn back on itself.”

Fire officials aren’t prioritizing protection at Point Mugu, Sap said, because they first want to focus on protecting residents and neighborhoods threatened by the flames. 

“When it gets to wild land and open space burning like this, those aren’t really a priority,” he said. “But once they have an upper hand and they’re able to protect the structures and people, then they’ll start deploying more resources to protect Point Mugu.”

Firefighters could strategically set small fires that would potentially act as preventative lines.

“They may be setting back fires to have a defensible line in the park…it would be down along Sycamore Canyon to prevent it from going to the coast,” Sap said.

The raging ‘Springs’ brushfire originating in Camarillo reached Point Mugu State Park after 4 p.m. Thursday, a State Parks official confirmed.

District Supt. Craig Sap said it was unclear how much of Point Mugu was on fire, but he said flames had reached part of the park in Camarillo in an area known as Laguna Peak off of Portrero Road. 

The wind-driven fire has burned between 6,500 and 7,000 acres, according to Ventura County officials, and is 0 percent contained. 

He said the flames were also on a path to burn an area known as Ranch Center in a northeast section of Point Mugu State Park, but because of the amount of smoke, it remains unclear if Ranch Center had caught on fire.

Point Mugu State Park was evacuated early Thursday just hours after the Camarillo fire started. Sap said one car was unaccounted for but there were no reports of missing persons in the park. 

“There’s nobody in the path and everybody’s in that area has left or has been escorted,” Sap said. 

While the fire remains miles away from Malibu, flying embers pose an additional risk in spreading fire. Emergency Services Coordinator Brad Davis said it would take a lot for an ember to get to Malibu at this point.

“I’m fully aware of the danger of that but it’s going to be a long trip for an ember to make it all the way from where the fire is now,” he said.