Fire crews in California are gaining ground on a smoldering 2-day-old wildfire that charred nearly 22 square miles of brush in the high desert north of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Don Kunitomi said Saturday evening that the blaze is 82 percent contained. He says no structures are threatened and all evacuation orders have been rescinded.
A separate wildfire burning for several hours in the Angeles National Forest above Glendora, west of Pasadena, is now 80 percent contained. Kunitomi says that fire burned some 15 acres of heavy brush but did not threaten any structures.
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PALMDALE, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire smoldered in the high desert north of Los Angeles Saturday, spewing plumes of thick smoke into a nearby town as hundreds of firefighters worked to contain the 2-day-old blaze.
The fire has charred nearly 22 square miles of brush in the Antelope Valley. It was 62 percent contained Saturday afternoon and no structures were threatened, said Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Sam Padilla.
Some 1,300 firefighters were assigned to the fire near Palmdale, and the city of 139,000 was filled with thick smoke.
Crews hoped to close the fire's south flank near Portal Ridge, Rancho Vista and Ana Verde as temperatures rose into the 90s and dry winds whipped up again as predicted.
"We're getting a handle on it," Padilla said. "As soon as we contain that south end we'll be in better shape."
Padilla said there were no open flames — just smoldering embers — which has slowed the fire's spread.
"The way you work embers is by using hoses on the ground, so we're relying on our foot soldiers today," County Fire Inspector Don Kunitomi said. "It's important to clean up those embers because one hot gust of wind can start a spot fire."
Officials were prepared to again activate water-dropping aircraft, which helped hold back the fire late Friday when flames jumped an aqueduct and menaced power lines that deliver electricity to Southern California.
Winds apparently carried embers across the wide concrete channel, with flames rapidly spreading to backyard fences. As many as 2,300 structures were threatened at the height of the fire late Thursday. Evacuation orders were lifted Friday morning, but some roads remained closed.
One house and three mobile homes were destroyed, authorities said.
Deputy Fire Chief Michael Bryant said an investigation into the cause of the fire is centering on workers who were hammering on some bolts to remove a tire rim.
Crews also were battling a wildfire that has burned about 12 acres of heavy brush in the Angeles National Forest above Glendora, west of Pasadena.
Kunitomi said about 115 firefighters were assigned to the blaze that started Saturday morning, and at least two helicopters were providing air support. Most of the fire was burning inside the forest and no structures were threatened, he said.
Elsewhere, good weather in neighboring Kern County helped firefighters build containment lines around two wildfires that destroyed homes in remote mountain communities earlier in the week.
Officials said a fire near Tehachapi that destroyed 23 homes and charred 2 1/2 square miles of heavy brush was expected to be fully contained by Sunday.
To the north, a blaze that destroyed eight residences as it spread across about 26 square miles of the Sequoia National Forest in the Sierra Nevada was also expected to be contained this weekend.
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