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Page last updated at 04:49 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 05:49 UK

LA wildfire fight makes progress

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Fires raging overnight in Simi Valley

Firefighters in southern California, aided by better weather conditions, have contained a number of wildfires that have been burning for two days.

However, the biggest of the blazes, in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, has spread west towards Ventura County.

The fires destroyed dozens of houses and forced thousands of people to flee. The hot winds that sweep through southern California every year at this time helped the flames spread quickly.

The fires have claimed at least two lives.

While the winds are dying out, warnings for critical fire weather conditions will remain in effect until Wednesday night.

'Perfect storm'

Fire-fighters reported containing two big fires on Tuesday.

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A blaze in the north-eastern San Fernando Valley was 80% contained and some evacuees were allowed to go home.

On the north coast of San Diego County, a blaze at the Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton was 60% contained and evacuation orders were largely lifted.

Los Angles officials said on Tuesday night they did not know how much of the biggest fire had been contained.

Helicopters dumped water on hot spots over an area of 20 sq miles (32 sq km) above the San Fernando Valley communities of Porter Ranch and Granada Hills.

The US National Weather Service said the intensity of the winds was diminishing but warned there would still be strong gusts.

More than 1,000 fire-fighters were deployed to battle the flames.

At night I can see the glow of the fires on the other side of the hill bright as day, even though they're miles away
Joseph Fuhr, North Hollywood

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, saying the winds were creating the "perfect storm".

One of the two fatalities is believed to be a homeless man who was living in a makeshift shelter near the Angeles National Forest.

Another man died in a motorway accident as vehicles were being turned around to avoid the flames. An 18-mile stretch of one freeway has been completely shut down.

Many other roads remain closed, along with schools and businesses.

However, the California Highway Patrol said that both the 210 and 118 freeways were open in both directions on Tuesday after being closed due to smoke and flames on Monday.


SEE ALSO
Progress in California fire fight
05 Jul 08 |  Americas
California fires threaten towns
04 Jul 08 |  Americas
Fires cause California evacuation
04 Jul 08 |  Americas
Crews battle California wildfires
30 Jun 08 |  Americas

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