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California wildfire scorches lemons and avocados in Ventura County

According to an article, a fast-moving wildfire is raging through Ventura County, causing unknown damage to avocado and citrus groves. The fire, dubbed the “Thomas wildfire”, shows no signs of slowing down.

The Ventura County Fire Department tweeted on December 5th that some 1,000 firefighters were battling the blaze, with 45,500 acres having “zero” containment, the morning of that day.

The fire started on December 4th up Santa Paula Canyon and that night the fire moved at least five to six miles per hour, pushed on by wind gusts of 40 to 70 miles per hour.

According to Alex Teague, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Limoneira Co, the fire destroyed twelve buildings housing Limoneira’s guest workers, though fortunately nobody was hurt. In the morning of Dec. 5 Limoneira had a power outage at its packinghouse.
Lemon crop damage was expected to be minimal and packing was expected to resume the morning of Dec. 6. The company continues to ship product, he said.

Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and fresh marketing with Calavo Growers Inc. out of Santa Paula, said early in the afternoon of Dec. 5 that it was too early to determine the extent of grove damage because of the fire. The firm is doing some repacking of Mexican avocados, but California avocado harvest has not yet started. Wedin said California avocados volume will start slowly on Dec. 12, with larger volumes expected in January.

Since the wildfire has tended to stay at higher elevations, Wedin said avocados may have suffered more damage than citrus groves in the region.

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