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Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 16:09 UK
LA firefighters 'making progress'



A firefighting helicopter flies by a the sun, as it prepares to drop water in Glendale, California.
Fires are unusual so close to major population centres

California emergency workers have made progress overnight in their battle against the huge wildfire blazing north of Los Angeles.

Helped by cooler temperatures and lower humidity, firefighters have succeeded in containing a quarter of the blaze.

They still have 95 miles of fire breaks to build around the fire's perimeter.

The fire has spread over 190 sq miles (492 sq km), destroying 53 buildings and threatening 12,000 more - causing damage already estimated at $13m (£8m).

'Good day'

Some 3,600 personnel have been battling the blaze, which broke out in the Angeles National Forest and has spread to Los Angeles's northern suburbs, 15 miles (25km) from the centre.

Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke of the ''great improvement'' in containing the fire

Two firefighters died on Sunday after their vehicle was overrun by flames.

A squadron of aircraft, including eight air tankers and 13 helicopters, have been deployed to bombard the blaze.

"Right now if I were in a boxing match, I'd think we're even today," said US Forest Service incident commander Mike Dietrich.

"This is a good day," said firefighters' spokeswoman Gail Wright.

More than 10,000 residents have fled the flames, and thousands of homes are under mandatory evacuation orders.

A resident in Tujunga, 01/09

But as firefighters made progress in containing the fires, officials were able to lift evacuation orders in large parts of La Canada Flintridge and La Crescenta.

Wildfires are a feature of the Californian summer, but it is unusual for them to break out so close to major population centres.

The latest fire is not being fanned by the Santa Ana winds that typically kick up in October. Instead, it is being fuelled by extremely dry brush that has not burned in more than 40 years.

A number of other fires are also burning in southern and central California.

A blaze in Placer County, north-east of the state capital, Sacramento, has destroyed 60 structures, many of them homes in the town of Auburn.


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SEE ALSO
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In pictures: California inferno
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