Residents return home to southern Sierra Nevada as crews slow fire's advance

Hundreds of California residents have been allowed to return to their homes in mountain communities in the southern Sierra Nevada where a forest fire burned more than 8,100 acres.

Fire officials called off evacuation orders Thursday as a fierce air and ground attack helped slow the advance of the fire.

Officials put containment at 65 percent, with full containment expected Sunday.

The nearly 13-square-mile fire destroyed one home and threatened 250 more since breaking out last Sunday in the Lower Kern River Canyon southwest of Lake Isabella. Light winds aided the firefighting effort Wednesday as bulldozers carved firebreaks and crews set backfires to help stop the fire's spread.

Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate earlier this week when heavy winds kicked up, pushing the flames to the southeast and closer to homes.

About 200 homes lost electricity because of burned power poles at the height of the fire.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in Kern County to free up state resources to battle the blaze. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also authorized the use of federal funds to help fight the blaze.

Authorities have said the fire was human-caused but have not determined whether it was an accident or intentional. Firefighting costs have reached $2.5 million.

Meanwhile, firefighters made quick work of two brush fires that broke out in Los Angeles County. A fire burned 45 acres in the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier before it was fully contained Thursday night and a pre-dawn brush fire burned 20 acres in northwest LA County.

© 2010 The Associated Press.

More in California

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus