WRIGHTWOOD, Calif., Oct. 4 (UPI) — Firefighters “are starting to get a handle on” a brush fire in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California, fire officials said Sunday.
As crews made a stand to try to prevent the Sheep fire from reaching the town of Wrightwood, Calif., San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Jay Hausman said firefighters were cautiously optimistic, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Things are looking a lot better,” he said.
“Overall we are starting to get a handle on this fire, although the battle is not over,” Hausman said. “The weather is a major factor.”
Diminishing winds made it possible for helicopter crews to drop water from lower altitudes and operations were also helped by temperatures falling into the mid 60s with humidity hovering around 40 percent.
The wildfire has burned 3,500 acres, destroyed three homes and threatened hundreds more. The first mandatory evacuation of Wrightwood in recent memory was called Sunday morning, the Times reported.
Earlier, remote canyon areas near Wrightwood, in the Angeles National Forest, were evacuated as erratic, gusty winds pushed the fire about 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles in different directions, the Times said.
The Sheep fire, burning between Lytle Creek Canyon and California Highway 138 also produced a mandatory evacuation in areas in and around Heath Canyon, the newspaper said.
Officials said more than 500 firefighters from the National Forest Service and San Bernardino, Calif., were waging an uphill battle to contain the wildfire, which by Sunday morning was only 10 percent contained.
Accuweather.com reported strong winds would blow through the Southwestern United States Sunday, but also indicated some drizzle could fall around Los Angeles, which would be a help to firefighters.
In Arizona, residents of 64 homes in the town of Williams were evacuated when winds shifted and turned a controlled burn into a wildfire in Kabib National Forest, authorities said.
Buildings in Williams, known as “The Gateway to the Grand Canyon,” were threatened by flames fanned by strong winds, The Arizona Republic reported.
Nearly 1,000 acres outside controlled burn areas had been scorched by late Saturday, authorities said.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International