David McNew  /  Getty Images
Flames from the fire near Fawnskin, Calif., light up some of the crews working to put it out Monday night.
updated 9/18/2007 11:07:05 AM ET 2007-09-18T15:07:05

Calmer wind and chilly temperatures helped firefighters gain the advantage on two wildfires that had chased nearly 2,000 people from their homes in Southern California. Rain is expected later this week, but it could also be accompanied by winds up to 45 mph.

Firefighters had a blaze in the San Bernardino National Forest half surrounded by late Monday, said fire spokeswoman Norma Bailey.

The temperature in the mountainous area fell to 32 degrees during the night, with light wind and humidity close to 40 percent, the National Weather Service said early Tuesday.

Stretches of Highways 18 and 38 remained closed early Tuesday, officials said.

The blaze had charred just over 14,000 acres, about 22 square miles, since it started Friday, authorities said. Several outbuildings burned.

About 340 residents of the Fawnskin area remained evacuated, although 1,200 others who voluntarily left their homes in Green Valley Lake had returned, officials said.

Actress Shirley Jones and her husband, producer Marty Ingels, evacuated their 17-acre hilltop estate in Fawnskin. Jones said flames were just a few hundred yards from their property.

"It's all up to God and the shifting winds," Jones said in a statement. "This is a real nail biter."

Six schools in the Bear Valley Unified School District closed as a precaution Monday, affecting 3,200 students, but district executives decided to reopen them Tuesday.

San Diego fire
In eastern San Diego County, a wildfire northeast of Julian had blackened 850 acres and was 75 percent surrounded. Full containment was expected Wednesday, authorities said.

About 400 people evacuated the nearby subdivision of Whispering Pines, but some had been allowed to return.

One vacation home was destroyed and five outbuildings were damaged.

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