OJAI, Calif. – Firefighters were in the final stage Sunday of surrounding one of the biggest blazes in California history, a conflagration that has burned 254 square miles of brush and timber since erupting Labor Day.
"There are still six miles of fire lines to build, but this fire is under control," said Faith Nielson, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman.
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The Day Fire was 87 percent contained, and officials expected to have it fully surrounded by Monday.
Scores of weary firefighters have been leaving the fire front and heading home. More than 3,300 crew members remained overnight but an additional 1,200 were scheduled to be released Sunday, fire officials said.
Calm winds and higher humidity at the end of the week slowed the spread of flames as crews continued to build containment lines.
The fire, ignited by someone burning debris, has blackened 162,547 acres, mainly in the Los Padres and Angeles National forests, making it the fifth biggest fire in California history. At one point, it threatened the Ventura County communities of Ojai, Santa Paula and Fillmore.
The fire destroyed one rural Lockwood Valley home and damaged another. It also burned a handful of structures that included barns, sheds, an unoccupied cabin and a camping trailer.
Firefighting costs have been estimated at more than $67 million.