Country Fire fully contained after burning 28 acres north of Westlake High School

Jordan+Murren%2C+a+firefighter+with+the+L.A.+County+Fire+Department%2C+works+to+put+out+hotspots+from+the+Country+Fire+in+Thousand+Oaks%2C+CA.+on+Thursday%2C+April+29.+The+Country+Fire+grew+to+28+acres+before+being+contained.+Photo+credit%3A+Ryan+Bough

Jordan Murren, a firefighter with the L.A. County Fire Department, works to put out hotspots from the Country Fire in Thousand Oaks, CA. on Thursday, April 29. The Country Fire grew to 28 acres before being contained. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Ryan Bough

On Thursday afternoon a brush fire was reported just up the road from Westlake High School. The fire, dubbed the Country Fire, quickly grew to 28 acres triggering mandatory evacuations of over 1100 residents.

All evacuation orders were lifted on Thursday evening and by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, the fire was 100% contained. Ventura County Fire Department Public Information Officer Robert Welsbie spoke about the possibility of arson being the cause of the fire.

“Right now the cause is under investigation, however three teenagers have been detained by the Ventura County Sheriff’s office as well as our arson investigators,” stated Welsbie.

The fire resulted in two minor injuries to firefighters and no structural damage to any homes in the area. Evacuations were ordered for residents living off of Via Colinas and County Valley Road.

A Ventura County Firefighter works to extinguish a flare up from the Country Fire in Thousand Oaks, CA. on April 29, 2021.
An L.A. County Firefighter works to extinguish a flare up from the Country Fire in Thousand Oaks, CA. on April 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Tengiz Borisoff, a Thousand Oaks resident who lived in the evacuation area on Via Colinas, spoke about the fires that his community has endured over years.

“I thought for a second maybe it was gonna be scary. But we’ve had this. This was pretty crazy around here a couple of years ago,” recalled Borisoff.

The Woolsey Fire blew through the same community in 2018, eventually burning almost 100,000 acres.

“I mean obviously every time you live on the edge of nature like this it’s a little scary. You know all’s well that ends well unfortunately,” said Borisoff.

Over 60 firefighting resources were deployed to the Country Fire including bulldozers and air support. The VCFD was also supported with mutual aid from the L.A. County Fire Department.

A Cal Fire plane drops fire retardant ahead of the Country Fire to halt its forward progress on Thursday, April 29, 2021.
A Cal Fire plane drops fire retardant ahead of the Country Fire to halt its forward progress on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Casey Chattel, a firefighter with the L.A. County Fire Department, and his engine came straight from a fire in Calabasas to provide mutual assistance to VCFD.

One hour prior to the start of the Country Fire, a small fire broke out off of the 101 freeway, named the Virgenes Fire which was quickly extinguished at five acres.

Chattel’s engine was assigned structure protection off of Via Colinas. He talked about what precautions were put into place to protect the structures.

“There are a couple little hotspots on here. Just the pine needles in the gutters and whatnot. There were a couple little spots there that we just got to knock down a little bit. But, besides that, it’s just business as usual,” explained Chattel. “There was a couple little pockets of smoke coming from the gutters, and it really didn’t spread anywhere but we were able to just catch up pretty early and just knock it out before it spreads anywhere besides the gutters.”

Embers from a fire can spread onto roofs and gutters. If there is debris or dried leaves in a gutter it is more likely to catch fire and spread to the house. The VCFD recommends clearing all debris, leaves, pine needles and anything else that could catch fire from roofs and gutters to better prepare for a wildfire.

The Country Fire spreads across the hills across the street from County Valley Rd in Thousand Oaks, on Thursday, April 29, 2021.
The Country Fire spreads across the hills across the street from County Valley Rd in Thousand Oaks, on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Welsbie also spoke about the increased intensity and longer durations of fire seasons in California and what residents should do if they receive an evacuation notice.

“I would say it’s more of a continuation of this season because fire season here truly is year round,” explained Welsbie. “With today’s fire here and in Calabasas and yesterday’s fire in Castaic, we’re starting to see these kinds of (fires) creep up on us here so we want our residents to heed our warnings. If you get an evacuation warning make sure you heed those warnings and leave early.”