California Firefighters Slow Spread of Blaze North of Los Angeles

After a day of major gains aided by a change in weather, firefighters battling a ferocious wildfire roaring through mountains near Los Angeles confronted a return of lower humidity on Wednesday that was likely to spur the blaze and slow their progress.

The chief fire commander also revealed that some kind of human activity was "presumed to be" the cause of a blaze that has destroyed 62 homes, killed two firefighters and cost the cash-strapped state $14 million so far, informs Reuters.

According to New York Times, residents began returning to their homes Wednesday in several neighborhoods that had been threatened by a large wildfire chewing through the foothills near Los Angeles as cooler temperatures and moister air allowed firefighters to begin gaining in their battle to control the blaze.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said at a morning news conference in San Bernardino County that the largest of several fires in the Angeles National Forest was 22 percent contained. It has so far consumed 140,000 acres and destroyed 92 structures, he said.

“The crews are making excellent progress based on the improved weather conditions,” Mike Dietrich, a commander for the United States Forest Service, said at the briefing.

Firefighters made progress toward containing a wildfire north of Los Angeles, as blazes threatened the 105-year-old Mount Wilson observatory.

The Station Fire was 22 percent contained as of this morning, up from 5 percent yesterday, and its rate of growth slowed from earlier in the week, the U.S. Forest Service said on its Web site. The wildfire expanded by about 12,000 acres since yesterday to 140,150 acres, the service said, Bloomberg informs.

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