Fog Helps Firefighters Turn Tide on California's Most Dangerous Blaze

Morning coastal fog helped firefighters turn the tide on a wildfire Saturday that had destroyed nine homes, consumed 23,500 acres and forced 1,500 residents to flee small forest communities north of Los Angeles.

Evacuation orders were expected to be lifted Saturday evening, said Martin Esparza, a spokesman with the U.S. Forest Service.

"We still have winds gusting upward of 30 miles per hour but with the humidity and fire lines the crews have been creating, we have a nice buffer," Esparza said.

The fire by Saturday afternoon was 45 percent contained; full containment was expected by Monday, Esparza said.

Some 2,000 firefighters helped battle the blaze in the Angeles National Forest.

The fire was accidentally ignited Wednesday by a grinding tool and became California's most dangerous wildfire Thursday evening when it suddenly quadrupled in size. Eight of nine homes destroyed were lost during the expansion.

To the west, in Ventura County, the state's other large blaze had burned 20,800 acres in Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai. The Ojai fire was 25 percent contained Saturday afternoon.

In northeastern New Mexico, about 1,000 firefighting personnel worked Saturday on a complex of fires that has burned approximately 90,000 acres.

Fire information officer Tom Lavagnino said the fire was about 10 percent contained. He said strong winds that had been expected for Sunday may not end up being as bad as fire officials had first thought.

Another fire continued to burn in El Malpais Wilderness in western New Mexico Saturday. The fire had burned just under 1,200 acres, officials said, but was not threatening any structures.

In western Colorado, a fast-moving wildfire ignited several structures, forced the evacuation of at least 16 homes and closed Interstate 70 with billowing black smoke Saturday afternoon. It wasn't known whether the burning buildings were homes or how many structures were on fire.

"The fire has got control of us at this time," Garfield County Sheriff Tom Dalessandri.

The fire broke out at 1 p.m. near Glenwood Springs, 125 miles west of Denver. Strong, hot winds quickly fanned the blaze across at least 50 acres and kept firefighting aircraft grounded.

In Utah, a wildfire near Zion National Park burned across 1,500 acres by early Saturday, threatening 20 vacation homes and five outbuildings. The fire, 21 miles east of Cedar City and seven air miles north of the park, was one of three large wildfires burning in southern Utah.