California wildfire almost contained

2013-05-05 14:45
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Camarillo - A big cool-down in weather calmed a huge wildfire burning in Southern California coastal mountains on Saturday, and firefighters worked to cut kilometres of containment lines while conditions were favourable.

High winds and withering hot, dry air were replaced by the normal flow of damp air off the Pacific, significantly reducing fire activity.

"The fire isn't really running and gunning," said Tom Kruschke, a Ventura County Fire Department spokesperson.

The blaze at the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains was 30% contained.

Despite the favourable conditions, evacuation orders remained in place for residents in several areas.

Nearly 1 900 firefighters using engines, bulldozers and aircraft worked to corral the blaze.

Rugged canyons

Firefighting efforts were focused on the fire's east side, rugged canyons that are a mix of public and private lands, Kruschke said.

The National Weather Service said an approaching low pressure system would bring a 20% chance of showers on Sunday afternoon, with the likelihood increasing into the night and on Monday.

"Anything we get is going to help us," Kruschke said.

The change in the weather was also expected to bring gusty winds to some parts of Southern California, but well away from the fire area.

Despite its size and speed of growth, the fire that broke out on Thursday and quickly moved through neighbourhoods of Camarillo Springs and Thousand Oaks has caused damage to just 15 homes, though it has threatened thousands.

The fire also swept through Point Mugu State Park, a hiking and camping area that sprawls between those communities and the ocean. Park district Superintendent Craig Sap told the Ventura County Star that two old, unused ranch-style homes in the backcountry burned. Restrooms and campgrounds also were damaged.

- AP
Read more on:    us  |  fires
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