SoCal Wildfires Near Containment, Ahead of Windy Forecast

September 20, 2007

Fire crews were bracing for strong winds as they sought to finish surrounding a wildfire that forced hundreds of people to flee this mountaintop community in the San Bernardino National Forest, authorities said.

Winds in the area were light early Wednesday, but gusts of up to 35 mph were forecast to start blowing in the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

“The real danger is those gusts of wind,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Bill Sapp said.

Cool weather helped firefighters bring the blaze under 86 percent containment late Tuesday, with full containment expected on Thursday, officials said.

Forecasters predicted that rain showers could hit the fire area on Friday.

The blaze has charred nearly 15,000 acres — or 22 square miles — near the Fawnskin area, where about 340 residents remained evacuated, Sapp said.

Voluntary evacuations were called off Tuesday in the Green Valley Lake, Lucerne Valley, Running Springs and Arrowbear communities, he said.

In eastern San Diego County, a wildfire northeast of Julian had burned 850 acres and was 95 percent surrounded late Tuesday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The Angel Fire, which authorities said was started by an illegal campfire, was expected to be fully contained Wednesday evening.

The blaze forced the evacuation of about 400 people from the nearby subdivision of Whispering Pines. They have been allowed to return home.

Flames destroyed one vacation home and at least 23 other structures, including a chapel, a lodge, a several cabins.

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