OJAI, Calif. – Firefighters battling a giant wildfire that had scorched more than 250 square miles of brush and timber fully contained the blaze late Monday, nearly a month after it began.
The 162,702-acre fire, which has cost more than $73 million to fight, was fully contained around 6 p.m., said Peter Frenzen, a spokesman for Los Padres National Forest.
Crews will focus on putting out hot spots to prevent flames from jumping the 163-mile fire line, Frenzen said.
"This fire won't be put out until winter weather puts it out. It's too large an area, and it's burning in difficult, steep rugged terrain," he said.
The blaze started from a trash fire on Labor Day and spread across 162,702 acres, or 254 square miles, of brush and timber, mainly in the Los Padres and Angeles National Forests. It destroyed one rural home and damaged another, and burned several barns and sheds, an unoccupied cabin and a camping trailer.
Dry, hot and sometimes windy weather that had helped spread the fire during the weekend. Unexpectedly damp weather on Sunday brought scattered showers to the fire area northwest of Los Angeles, with as much as 0.12 of an inch of rain, a fire information statement said.
By early Monday, temperatures in parts of the Los Padres National Forest were in the 40s with humidity in the range of 70 to 80 percent, said fire spokesman Curtis Vincent.
"The weather has definitely been in our favor the last couple of days," Vincent said.
On Sunday, a helicopter crashed during a flight to pick up fire retardant and water. Both pilots walked away with minor injuries.
Firefighting costs on that blaze alone have been estimated at more than $70 million.
In the Northwest, a 15-square-mile grass fire along the Columbia River in Washington was no longer an imminent danger to homes Monday. It destroyed two outbuildings during the weekend and sent thick, brown smoke drifting into the town of Bridgeport, Wash.
The fire, about seven miles from town, came within about a half-mile of homes, officials said. Firefighters had completed lines around about half the fire and expect to have it contained by Wednesday, a dispatcher said Monday. Investigators believe it was started by a downed power line.