BANNING, Calif. — Authorities on Tuesday lifted most evacuation orders as firefighters made slow progress against a huge blaze in the Southern California mountains that forced thousands of people from their homes.
The wildfire straddling Riverside and San Bernardino counties had consumed nearly 42 square miles (more than 108 square kilometers) of dry brush and chaparral since it broke out Friday evening, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
As of Tuesday night, it was 20% contained. On Tuesday, evacuation orders were lifted for all of Riverside County. Only some homes in the small community of Oak Glen remain under the orders.
At its peak, about 7,000 people were under evacuation orders.
The blaze, which began Friday, burned a dozen buildings, including four homes.
Jack Thompson evacuated his canyon home as flames drew closer Sunday. He said his wife grabbed his hand as they rounded a corner in their SUV and encountered a wall of smoke and fire.
“`We’re going to be all right,’ I said, then I put the pedal to the floor. We broke through the flames and saw a clear path ahead,” Thompson told the Los Angeles Times.
The wildfire was sparked by a vehicle spewing burning carbon from its exhaust system, igniting several fires in the Cherry Valley area east of downtown Los Angeles, officials said Monday.
In Northern California, crews made progress against a blaze that burned close to homes near East Park Reservoir in Colusa County. It was 90% contained Monday.
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