Nightly News | June 03, 2013
>>> now to the air war going on in southern california . in a state where they name each fire this one is called the powerhouse fire and the name has become fitting. it blew up in the last few days. charred tens of thousands of acres including several homes causing more than 2,000 evacuations. nbc's diana alvear is in lake hughes , california.
>> reporter: there is a mixed blessing tonight for the fire crews. cooler temperatures are helping slow the fire down giving them hope more homes don't end like this one. the erratic wins are working against them. firefighters battled overnight making steady progress against a fire that has charred nearly 30,000 acres of steep rugged terrain. the fire is now 40% contained.
>> conditions were a lot cooler yesterday. there was a cool mass of air that came in. that gave us the upper hand. we made headway last night.
>> reporter: today, as ground crews attacked hot spots, firefighters continued a heavy aerial assault with a steady convoy of air tankers carrying flame retardant .
>> support from the air allows time to be bought for the firefighters on the ground to get in position so they can do their job.
>> reporter: in the burn zone, firefighters are canvassing the damage. the vast destruction stunning, even to a veteran like fire chief michael brown .
>> personally, i haven't seen fires that will actually jump ahead of itself half a mile, three-quarters of a mile. that's amazing.
>> reporter: greg johnson evacuated his dream home of 11 years.
>> whoosh. gone. boom. done. like that.
>> reporter: he says he will rebuild.
>> the main thing is i have my life. my son's alive. my wife's alive. we're damn grateful to be alive.
>> reporter: tonight many of the thousands of evacuees are returning home or at least to what's left of them. what you're hearing now is the tireless fire crews, as i mentioned, doing an overhead drop right now heading to get more flame retardants . as far as when the fire will be contained officials expect to continue battling it for several days. brian?
>> diana lvear, thanks.