Santa Ana winds that swept six Southern California counties like a blowtorch over the weekend calmed to 5-mph breezes. No flames were seen and crews were mainly dousing smoldering spots, fire officials said.
Meanwhile, lawmakers geared up to help those who lost their homes. President George W. Bush made a disaster declaration for California, freeing federal aid to areas ravaged by the wildfires that blacked more than 65 square miles.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger signed an executive order waiving state fees for fire victims who need to replace destroyed birth certificates and other documents or obtain state property inspections. The order also waived a one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance applicants who lost their jobs because of the fire.
Los Angeles County Assessor Rick Auerbach said his office had begun identifying damaged or destroyed homes in order to reassess their value and provide their onwers with property tax relief.
The first of the wildfires broke out in the Montecito area of Santa Barbara County, about 90 miles northwest of Sylmar. The nearly 2,000-acre blaze destroyed 210 homes. The fire, which was contained Monday, was believed to have been caused by humans but investigators had not determined whether it was by accident or on purpose.