Today’s News: Ominous start to California fire season

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Fire danger. Warnings of an early and severe fire season are proving to be prescient.

The fast-burning, 10,000-acre Springs Fire in Ventura County is threatening up to 4,000 homes, with just 10 percent containment this morning. And there are fears that could it explode in size as a result of high heat, tinder-dry conditions and Santa Ana winds that are expected to blow until this evening. One fire officials tells the AP, “we’re going to be at Mother Nature’s mercy.”

Nearly 1,000 firefighters are battling the flames, aided by water dropping aircraft. The fire started near the 101 Freeway in Camarillo yesterday and burned its way south and west all the way to the ocean. Fifteen homes have been damaged and a cluster of recreational vehicles in a parking lot burned. But so far there are no injuries.

Besides keeping the flames away from clusters of homes in the area, a major concern is controlling the fire’s southern flank, which is 20 miles north of Malibu PCH is shut down between Mulholland Drive and Pt. Magu.

The Springs fire is just one of several blazes burning around the state today. Firefighters in northern California have yet to gain control of a wildfire that’s burned more than 10 square miles in Tehama County. There’s better luck in Riverside County, where a fire that’s charred four-and-a-half square miles near Banning is 60 percent contained. Another fire in Riverside County that destroyed four homes yesterday is completely surrounded. Ventura County Star

Prison overcrowding. Governor Jerry Brown is recommending the release of hundreds elderly and frail inmates and the transfer of other prisoners to private lockups and state fire camps. Brown’s plan to further reduce prison overcrowding was submitted just hours before a court-ordered deadline. Sacramento Bee

Arming officers. L.A. County is planning to more than triple its number of armed probation officers in response to what it calls a growing threat from the increase in dangerous ex-cons under it supervision as a result of the state’s realignment program. L.A. Daily News

Revenue leap. California is heading to a fiscal year-end surplus thanks to personal income tax payments that are more than $4 billion higher than expected. L.A. Times

Rescue costs. Word that one of two hikers lost for days in the Cleveland National Forest has been arrested on drug charges has sparked a discussion about who should pay for the rescue effort. O.C. Register

Snow woes. The season’s final snow survey in California found what most expected – dry conditions. Water content is only 17 percent of normal. AP