California Fire Crews, Wind Slow Blaze Burning North Of Los Angeles

ACTON, California (AP) -- Canyon winds that spread wildfires across northern Los Angeles County aided firefighters by blowing the latest blaze back on itself, easing the threat to hundreds of homes Thursday.

An 4,615 hectares (11,400-acre) wildfire that burned two homes and a bridge turned overnight into the Mojave Desert, where it was less of a threat to residential areas and more easily containable, officials said.

Fire department spokesman Anthony Polanco said the blaze was 50 percent contained, and residents were allowed to return to homes south of Highway 14 that were evacuated when the fire started Tuesday.

``All evacuation orders have been lifted,'' he said.

About 2,580 firefighters battled the blaze in dry brush about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Los Angeles. Seven suffered minor injuries. Firefighters were released from the lines overnight, officials said.

Angeles National Forest spokesman Stanton Florea said investigators determined the blaze was human-caused.

``Whether or not it was intentional or accidental is still under investigation,'' he said.

It was the third huge fire in and around the Angeles National Forest and the latest in a series of major blazes that have erupted in California unusually early in the year.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it had approved the use of federal funds to help pay the costs of fighting the third fire in northern Los Angeles County _ the fifth approval granted to California by FEMA this week.

The county's two other major blazes were fully surrounded. A fire near Santa Clarita had burned across 2,450 hectares (6,060 acres) since Saturday. Another fire had charred 7,050 hectares) 17,418 acres and destroyed three homes near Lake Hughes since July 12.

Elsewhere in California, the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge fire was expected to be fully contained at 607 hectares (1,500 acres).

In Yosemite National Park, a 1,720 hectares (4,250-acre) lightning-sparked wildfire was being allowed to grow on one front but otherwise was mostly contained, park officials said.

In Alaska, 117 wildfires were burning, and lightning ignited eight of the fires since Monday.

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