Firefighters gain upper hand on California blaze

Other News Materials 30 April 2008 04:25 (UTC +04:00)

Firefighters gained the upper hand Tuesday on southern California's first major wildfire of the year as lower temperatures, reduced winds and increased manpower enabled them to contain 57 per cent of the blaze in the forested foothills on the outskirts of Los Angeles, the dpa reported.

No homes have been burnt in the 135 hectare blaze, which had threatened some 400 homes in the town of Sierra Madre some 25 kilometers northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Most of the more than 1,000 people evacuated from their homes were allowed to return on Tuesday, and public schools in the community of about 11,000 residents reopened. More than 1,050 firefighters were on fire lines Tuesday, up from 700 on Monday, said Ed Gililland of the US Forest Service.

"Today has been real successful," said Captain Dennis Cross of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which is part of a multi- agency fire team formed Sunday evening. "There hasn't been much wind. The aircraft have been up there knocking the heat out of it."

A series of hot summers and dry winters have created extreme fire conditions across much of the western US. Last year a massive wildfire destroyed more than 3,000 homes in southern California and caused some 2.5 billion dollars of damage.