More residents return as fire is corralled
More people returned to their homes Friday as firefighters made significant progress against a huge wildfire burning in Southern California’s San Bernardino National Forest, but that was tempered by the announcement that at least 96 homes and 213 outbuildings were destroyed.
Thousands of residents chased from their mountain and desert homes were slowly beginning to take stock of their losses as the preliminary damage assessment was released for the blaze that erupted Tuesday in drought-parched canyons 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
Firefighters initially struggled to get the towering flames under control but later made dramatic progress in corralling the fire, which scorched nearly 58 square miles and was 40 percent contained. Plans were underway to demobilize some of the nearly 1,600 firefighters.
A prolonged drought has transformed swaths of California into tinderboxes, ready to ignite. Several other wildfires were burning in the state, including a blaze in rural Santa Barbara County that prompted the evacuation of a pair of campgrounds.
In the southern Sierra Nevada, another blaze feeding on dense timber in Sequoia National Forest forced the evacuation of several tiny hamlets.
In mountains north of San Francisco, a 6-square-mile blaze was 75 percent contained after destroying 299 structures. All evacuation orders have been canceled in the town of Lower Lake.