Burning Volkswagen Sparks 170-Acre Brush Fire Near 101 Freeway In Calabasas
CALABASAS (CBSLA.com) — A burning Volkswagen Beetle on the side of the Ventura (101) Freeway spread flames to adjacent brush, closing the westbound freeway briefly west of Las Virgenes Road.
The fire was reported on the north side of the freeway, between Las Virgenes and Lost Hills roads, at 2:52 p.m.
By 4:30 p.m., officials said about 50 acres had burned.
[UPDATE: As of 11:30 p.m. Sunday, the fire had burned 170 acres and was 100 percent contained.]
There were initial reports of evacuations and structures being threatened but neither report materialized.
All five lanes of the westbound freeway were blocked. Traffic quickly backed up into Woodland Hills, and the freeway was briefly closed by the CHP at Parkway Calabasas.
A massive traffic jam ensued, as there are no major alternative routes from the San Fernando Valley to the Thousand Oaks area.
CBS2’s Brittney Hopper spoke to residents who stayed put. They told all they could do was watch as the fire inched nearer to their property.
Helicopters dropped water and firefighters did a great job of keeping the fire from spreading.
Taylor Burgess lives across the street from the fire line and said he was nervous.
“It was really scary. To live just across the street, there is such a large amount of brush here. Thank God for the firefighters.”
Cell phone video captured just how large the flames were and how close they came to some residences.
“I didn’t know what to do,” said one resident, “What should I be grabbing? Should I be packing? We were just waiting for what happens next.”
Drivers were also at a standstill. Some sat in their cars for hours.
“It was awful,” said one motorist, “I was in my car for an hour and 45 minutes and had no idea what was going on.”