Winds return fire danger to Southern California

October 22, 2008 5:16:30 PM PDT
Hot, dry Santa Ana winds - and a high risk of wildfires - returned to southern California on Wednesday, but firefighters quickly jumped on the small brush blazes that erupted. One fire in foothills 60 miles east of Los Angeles gave an early morning scare to residents, but 30 mph winds were pushing the flames away from homes. The 250-acre blaze was 60 percent contained and moving west into mountains and canyons of Rancho Cucamonga.

People in about 100 homes were told they may want to evacuate but were not ordered to do so, San Bernardino County fire spokeswoman Angie Samayoa said. The county said the fire was caused by fireworks.

Warnings for high fire danger due to wind and low humidity were posted for a swath of Southern California. Temperatures soared into the 90s even along the shoreline, and the National Weather Service said winds gusted to 50 mph in places.

The Rancho Cucamonga fire broke out almost exactly five years after a wildfire destroyed 135 homes in the same area.

Last week, Santa Ana winds fanned several wildfires in Southern California including two large blazes that burned more than 50 residences around Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley.

In a remote area of southern New Jersey, a forest fire that broke out Tuesday continued to burn pinelands Wednesday, fueled by strong gusts of wind that fanned flames. The blaze had engulfed 1,800 acres, officials said. It was about 40 percent contained.

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