Photos: Wildfires blaze

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  1. A DC-10 jumbo jet tanker drops retardant on top of the crest of Hauser Peak to protect microwave towers in Palmadale, Calif., from a wildfire on Friday, July 30. A huge wildfire churned through high desert wilderness north of Los Angeles, destroying a few buildings and forcing people from about 2,000 homes. Most of the displaced residents were allowed to return as the threat eased. (Damian Dovarganes / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Firefighters and sheriff deputies retreat quickly as flames approach Elizabeth Lake Road in Leona Valley as a fast moving wildfire nears Palmdale on Thursday. (Dan Steinberg / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Fire rages behind the Lazy T Ranch on Elizabeth Lake Road west of Palmdale Calif. on Thursday. About 2,000 homes in the community of Leona Valley and parts of Palmdale areas were under evacuation Friday, according to Los Angeles County Fire. (Dave Mills / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A U.S. Forest Service firefighter sets an intentional backfire to keep flames away from homes in Leona Valley, just west of Palmdale. (Mike Meadows / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A firefighter looks on as a fast moving wildfire approaches Elizabeth Lake Road in the Leona Valley near Palmdale on Thursday. (Dan Steinberg / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Engine companies line up along Lake Elizabeth Road at dusk Thursday. The fire, one of two major fires to break out in the same area, has roared through at least a thousand acres. (Mike Meadows / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Fire personnel inspect the remains of a house destroyed by wild fires in Kern County, California, on Wednesday, July 28. Two wildfires have burned dozens of homes and forced more than 2,000 people to evacuate mountain communities on the edge of the Mojave Desert and in the southern Sierra Nevada. (Mike Meadows / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A vehicle and structures destroyed by wild fires in Kern County, California, on Wednesday, July 28. (Mike Meadows / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A helicopter drops water on the wildfire at Old West Ranch where residents were evacuated and about 30 to 40 homes were lost near Tehachapi, Calif., Wednesday, July 28. (Alex Gallardo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A house burns on Tuesday, July 27, near Tehachapi, Calif. Over 40 homes were destroyed in the Old West Ranch fire on Tuesday. (Sean Work / Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. An inmate crew marches to the fire at Old West Ranch near Tehachapi, Calif., Wednesday, July 28. (Alex Gallardo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Fires rage in Kern County, Calif., on Tuesday, July 27, on the edge of the Mojave Desert. (Mike Meadows / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A house burns on Tuesday, July 27, near Tehachapi, Calif. Over 40 homes were destroyed in the Old West Ranch fire. (Dave Mills / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A mule deer and her fawn make their way through a burnt out canyon at the Old West Ranch were residents were evacuated and about 30 to 40 homes have been lost to a wildfire near Tehachapi, Calif., Wednesday, July 28. (Alex Gallardo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A huge column of smoke from the Old West Ranch fire can be seen from the highway near Tehachapi, Calif., Tuesday, July 27. (Mike Meadows / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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Image: Firefighters spray water on burning plants
Mike Meadows  /  AP
Firefighters spray water on burning plants as flames race across the desert floor in Palmdale, Calif., Friday.
updated 7/31/2010 10:19:52 PM ET 2010-08-01T02:19:52

Fire crews steadily gained ground Saturday on a smoldering wildfire that charred nearly 22 square miles of brush in the high desert north of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Don Kunitomi said Saturday evening that the blaze was 82 percent contained. He said no structures were threatened and all evacuation orders had been rescinded.

A separate wildfire burning for several hours in the Angeles National Forest above Glendora, west of Pasadena, burned some 15 acres of heavy brush by late Saturday afternoon. Kunitomi said that fire was 80 percent contained and did not threaten any structures.

The high-desert fire in Antelope Valley spewed plumes of thick smoke into nearby Palmdale as 1,300 firefighters worked to contain the two-day-old blaze and protect the city of 139,000.

Crews hoped to close the fire's south flank near Portal Ridge, Rancho Vista and Ana Verde as temperatures rose into the 90s and dry winds whipped up again as predicted.

"We're getting a handle on it," Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Sam Padilla said earlier Saturday. "As soon as we contain that south end we'll be in better shape."

Padilla said there were no open flames — just smoldering embers — which has slowed the fire's spread.

"The way you work embers is by using hoses on the ground, so we're relying on our foot soldiers today," Kunitomi, the inspector, said. "It's important to clean up those embers because one hot gust of wind can start a spot fire."

Officials were prepared to again activate water-dropping aircraft, which helped hold back the fire late Friday when flames jumped an aqueduct and menaced power lines that deliver electricity to Southern California.

Winds apparently carried embers across the wide concrete channel, with flames rapidly spreading to backyard fences. As many as 2,300 structures were threatened at the height of the fire late Thursday. Evacuation orders were lifted Friday morning, but some roads remained closed.

One house and three mobile home residences were destroyed, authorities said.

Deputy Fire Chief Michael Bryant said an investigation into the cause of the fire is centering on workers who were hammering on some bolts to remove a tire rim.

Crews also were battling a wildfire that has burned about 12 acres of heavy brush in the Angeles National Forest above Glendora, west of Pasadena.

Kunitomi said about 115 firefighters were assigned to the blaze that started Saturday morning, and at least two helicopters were providing air support. Most of the fire was burning inside the forest and no structures were threatened, he said.

Elsewhere, good weather in neighboring Kern County helped firefighters build containment lines around two wildfires that destroyed homes in remote mountain communities earlier in the week.

Officials said a fire near Tehachapi that destroyed 23 homes and charred 2½ square miles of heavy brush was expected to be fully contained by Sunday.

To the north, a blaze that destroyed eight residences as it spread across about 26 square miles of the Sequoia National Forest in the Sierra Nevada was also expected to be contained this weekend.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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