California Firefighters Race To Battle Wildfire Forecast

Residents evacuated from about 70 homes in Sunset Canyon.


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Firefighters scrambled Monday to mop up hot spots from three Southern California wildfires before the expected return of high winds that could fan new blazes or rekindle smoldering embers.

The National Weather Service forecast hot, dry winds with gusts of 50 mph (81 kph) for late Monday through Wednesday in Ventura, Los Angeles and southern Santa Barbara counties, causing concern among fire officials.

An 1,100-acre (440-hectare) fire in rugged terrain in Burbank, 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of downtown Los Angeles, was 70 percent contained, said Capt. Ron Bell of the Burbank Fire Department.

''We're up there cutting line as fast as we can, trying to get all the hot spots around the edges taken care of before these winds kick in this afternoon,'' he said.

Residents evacuated from about 70 homes in Sunset Canyon were able to return over the weekend.

The region's largest blaze, the 24,175-acre (9670-hectare) fire in the hills of Topanga, between the northwest edge of Los Angeles and Ventura County suburbs, was 85 percent contained, with full containment expected by nightfall, said Inspector Ron Haralson of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Haralson said he was worried about the weather forecast.

''You have to have a watchful eye over the whole area right now,'' he said.

Farther east, in San Bernardino County, a 935-acre (374-hectare) fire was 78 percent contained, said Carol Beckley, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.