Nightly News   |  July 20, 2013

Wildfire still raging in California

Crews have been battling the so-called Mountain Fire in California for six days and have the flames 25 percent contained, making major progress in the past 24 hours. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>>> now to the wildfires raging in southern california that have forced thousands from their homes. while cooler air gave firefighters a break today, the threat is now storms moving in. nbc's miguel almaguer was on the fire lines today near palm springs .

>> reporter: for nearly a week, the mountain fire has ripped across 27,000 acres of wildland.

>> that should qualify.

>> reporter: tonight, this inferno is chewing through a tinderbox, difficult to reach. in palm springs , firefighters use the popular air tram to shuttle hotshot crews in to the mountain.

>> reporter: but much of this firefight comes from the air. nbc news was aboard one of 20 water-dropping helicopters based in garner ranch. a critical, and now 24-hour, asset in this dangerous firefight. are there times when you're up there and you think it's pretty -- it's getting pretty harry?

>> oh, many times it gets very hairy. you have to stop, sit back and re-evaluate everything.

>> reporter: battling extreme fire behavior crews have faced rugged terrain in stifling heat. but final a much-needed break. cooler weather and thunderstorms are in the forecast.

>> the change in the weather has helped us immensely.

>> reporter: near the mountain town of idyllwild, 6,000 remain under a mandatory evacuation tonight. diane o'neal and her daughter only had minutes to evacuate their flock of animals.

>> we have three dogs back here. teddy, robin and caper.

>> reporter: tonight the o'neals and their neighbors watch this firefight from a distance. a stubborn blaze still on the move. with the forecast calling for thunderstorms all weekend, crews say they can make the turn from defense to offense on this firefight. the blaze is 25% contained. crews say they'll make steady progress this weekend. harry?

>> we will keep our fingers