SIMI VALLEY, Calif., Oct 30 (Reuters) - Firefighting aircraft made attack after attack on a wildfire menacing California’s Ronald Reagan presidential library on Wednesday, as flames encircled memorabilia including a former Air Force One airplane and a piece of the Berlin Wall, Reuters video showed.
Wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour (80 kph) drove flames around a massive hangar housing the Boeing 707 aircraft used by the former president as helicopters showered down water.
The white steel and glass structure sat on top of scorched hillsides surrounding the hilltop presidential library near Simi Valley, about 36 miles (58 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Helicopters dropped water about every two minutes and firefighters coped with thick acrid smoke as they fought to save the site that honors the Republican president who led the United States during the final years of the Cold War.
The library stores Reagan’s key papers as well as memorabilia including a Ford Mustang driven by the late president and his late wife, Nancy Reagan.
“It’s a national treasure,” John Heubusch, director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, told local ABC television affiliate KABC7, struggling to stand up during strong gusts driving the flames. “Hopefully the heroes out here, in helicopters, on trucks, who have surrounded the library, have protected it, but we’re surrounded on all sides right now.”
A spokesman for the Reagan Presidential Library and Museum was not immediately available for comment.
The Easy Fire broke out early on Wednesday. Flames were whipped by winds that tipped over semi trucks on nearby freeways, burning over 1,000 acres (405 hectares) by midday, according to fire authorities. (Reporting by Omar Younis in Simi Valley, California; Writing by Andrew Hay; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)