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Southern California wildfire nearly 60-percent contained

Source: Reuters - Sun, 5 May 2013 03:07 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Updates with progress controlling fire, adds quotes)

May 4 (Reuters) - A fierce wildfire that had threatened 4,000 homes northwest of Los Angeles was nearly 60-percent contained on Saturday as favorable weather conditions helped beat it back, officials said.

"We actually have a pretty good marine layer, which is like thick fog on the coast moving inland, cooler temperatures and higher humidity," Captain Dan Horgon of the Ventura County Fire Department told Reuters.

"That coupled with our efforts out there with our firefighters have made the situation quite a bit better," he said.

The Springs Fire in coastal Ventura County has blackened about 28,000 acres (11,300 hectares) of rugged brushland since it started on Thursday.

Officials said the blaze was now expected to be fully under control by sometime on Monday. All fire-related evacuation orders had been lifted by Saturday evening.

About 4,000 homes had been threatened by the fire, but only 15 have been damaged, Horgon said. There are no reports of deaths or injuries, although one firefighter and a civilian were hurt in a vehicle collision, the department said on its website.

Until this week, fewer than 12,000 acres (4,856 hectares) had burned since the mid-April start of the Southern California fire season, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

That figure has jumped with the Springs Fire and five smaller blazes around the state.

The department had moved ahead its official start date for the season by two weeks because of dry conditions, already at levels typical for June or July, Berlant said.

Snow pack in California's Sierra Nevada mountains is 17 percent of normal.

Some weather forecasters have predicted the season will get worse with a summer of high temperatures and drought throughout much of the U.S. West. (Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Tom Brown and Xavier Briand)

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