California firefighters make gains on fires

Natural Disasters Posted on

Firefighters aided by Mother Nature continued to make gains early Monday on three raging wildfires that reduced hundreds of homes to ash and cinders and forced thousands of residents to flee in Southern California.

Ferocious Santa Ana winds finally abated after fanning the blazes that have destroyed more than 800 houses, mobile homes and apartments since Thursday night from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles and counties to the east. In all, the fires burned more than 35,000 acres or 55 square miles.

In Orange and Riverside counties, the fires chewed through nearly 24,000 acres and were pushing toward Diamond Bar in Los Angeles county. A major aerial attack on Sunday raised containment to 19 percent.

Meanwhile, a 15 square-mile fire that hit hard in the Sylmar area of northern Los Angeles on Saturday had moved into the Placerita Canyon area of the rugged San Gabriel Mountains and was burning vigorously, but well outside the city. It was 40 percent contained.

The Santa Barbara-area fire that swept through tony Montecito has burned 3 square miles and was 80 percent contained.

Far away from the flames, the gains may not have been readily apparent. The smell of smoke pervaded metropolitan Los Angeles. Downtown skyscrapers were silhouettes in an opaque sky and concerns about air quality kept many people indoors. Organizers on Sunday canceled a marathon in suburban Pasadena where 8,000 runners had planned to participate.

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