Evacuation ends as crews contain Kern County fire

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Southern California firefighters look out at smoldering hills.

Kern county residents are returning to their homes after the fire that charred over 20 square miles forced them to leave their homes.

The fire near Tehachapi, about 90 miles north of Los Angeles, started Sunday when a single-engine Cessna crashed, killing Walter Johnson, 72, of Pomona, and John Nuckolls, 55, of Claremont.

The fire has burned 14,802 acres and is 60 percent, Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Wednesday. The fire caused 200 people to evacuate.

More than 2,000 firefighters were on duty, but so much progress was made overnight that some of them were being released, he said.

Twelve homes and 18 outbuildings were destroyed and three firefighters sustained minor injuries in the firefight.

At its worst, 650 houses were in the fire's path and more than 200 residents from homes closest to the flames were asked to leave.

In Aqua Dulce in northern Los Angeles County, a blaze that started Monday and had burned 500 acres was 80 percent contained.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Eric Scott said a 40-acre canyon fire near Interstate 405 at the Sepulveda Pass was also 80 percent contained.

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