Video: Heeding deadly lessons

updated 10/2/2005 8:58:20 PM ET 2005-10-03T00:58:20

Firefighters gained ground Sunday against three wildfires burning across Southern California but worried about a forecast for hot winds.

A 1,045-acre fire in Burbank was 67 percent contained after firefighters were aided by cooler, overnight breezes, said Capt. Ron Bell of the Burbank Fire Department.

Residents returned to about 70 evacuated homes in Sunset Canyon. But firefighters were concerned about a forecast for warmer winds that could bring 50 mph gusts and re-ignite what appeared to be a “cold mountain,” Bell said.

“A little wind could blow those embers into the green and then we’d be starting from scratch,” Bell said. “Things look excellent today, and we will be very aggressive. But the wind event is our biggest ’what if’ right now.”

Crews were kept at the scene a little longer and positioned near homes that could be threatened if the winds kicked up.

Elsewhere, more than 1,000 emergency personnel battled a blaze in steep, rugged terrain in and around San Bernardino National Forest, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles.

The 935-acre fire was 60 percent contained Sunday but had the potential to flare up in windy conditions because of dead trees and grass in the area, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

About 1,200 people were evacuated from several small communities on Friday. Some residents were allowed to return late Saturday, but mandatory evacuations remained Sunday for Seven Oaks, Barton Flats and Angelus Oaks.

A wildfire that torched more than 24,000 acres on the border of Los Angeles and Ventura counties was 65 percent contained and cooler weather helped firefighters as they tried to extinguish hot spots, said Mike Horst, a Ventura County fire dispatcher.

All evacuation orders and road closures were lifted on the Topanga Fire, which raged much of last week.

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