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Winds ease, allowing progress in Calif. fire fight

Santa Ana Winds And Hot Conditions Stoke Wildfire In Ventura County?
A farm orchard smolders near Moorpark, Calif., on Wednesday.David McNew / Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

A 27-square-mile Southern California wildfire was 85 percent contained Friday night as the withering Santa Ana winds that had fanned it faded away.

Firefighters hoped to have the 17,500-acre blaze in Ventura County between the cities of Moorpark and Fillmore fully surrounded sometime Sunday. No homes had been lost.

"The fire is not making any significant runs," said county fire Capt. Ron Oatman.

The fire began Tuesday and burned through rugged land interspersed with orchards, farms and ranches.

Agricultural officials were involved in the damage assessment process, but Oatman said he did not believe there were significant losses in that industry. Firefighting costs have topped $6 million.

Weather remained a concern because air over the region remained hot, with temperatures in the 100s and high 90s except right along the coast, and humidity levels were still very low. Forecasters said "red flag" warnings of fire danger would be in effect until 9 p.m. Saturday and a cooling trend was expected Sunday.

Teen charged as juvenile
Elsewhere in Southern California, a new fire broke out Friday afternoon in the Antelope Valley near Elizabeth Lake west of the desert city of Lancaster in Los Angeles County. The blaze burned 75 acres and was 65 percent contained, said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Frederic Stowers. No homes were damaged and none are threatened, Stowers said.

San Bernardino County prosecutors, meanwhile, filed unspecified charges against a 16-year-old boy suspected in more than a dozen arson wildfires.

District attorney's spokeswoman Susan Mickey said she was not allowed to say what crimes were alleged because of confidentiality laws surrounding juvenile justice.

The teen was arrested near a fire Wednesday in Yucaipa, 65 miles east of Los Angeles, and he was booked for investigation of arson. Officials said Thursday he may be involved in 12 to 14 fires dating to 2006.

Because of juvenile court secrecy it was not known if the charges involved any of those fires.

Mickey said the district attorney's office understood the public interest and will continually evaluate what can be said about the case.

Utility workers injured
Northeast of Los Angeles, two utility workers were injured Friday as they worked on power infrastructure damaged when fire swept through 251 square miles of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Southern California Edison spokesman Paul Klein said the employees were on a power pole when it came down along a highway in the Angeles National Forest.

One workers apparently suffered a broken arm and the other had undetermined injuries, but neither case was life-threatening, he said. Both were taken to a hospital.

The huge forest fire is now only smoldering but officials say they will hold off until the first rain before calling it fully contained. Firefighting costs have surpassed $88 million.

The Angeles National Forest is a heavily used recreation area for residents of greater Los Angeles, but a huge portion of its 1,000 square miles remains closed to the public for repair of utilities and roadways.