LEBEC, Calif. – Rising humidity levels have slowed the spread of a wildfire that burned some 1,300 acres and threatened homes in the mountainous area northwest of Los Angeles. Officials responded by lifting evacuation orders Tuesday evening.
No structures were immediately threatened, but firefighters would stay among the area's homes in case the fire burning in the opposite direction reversed course overnight, U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Michelle Puckett said.
Temperatures were forecast to reach as low as 71 degrees overnight, a relief to the firefighters who spent hours during the day working in 100-degree heat in the rugged terrain.
Crews were aided by airtankers, including a DC-10 jumbo jet, that painted ridges with orange swaths of retardant to try to corral the flames' advance.
Earlier in the day, as many as 200 homes had been evacuated, with firefighters stationed at dozens of threatened properties for structure protection.
More than 250 firefighters from Kern County, the BLM and U.S. Forest Service were battling the blaze and many more were en route, authorities said. An incident management team was due to bolster the crews early Wednesday, Puckett said.
The fire was reported at 12:15 p.m. There was no immediate word on the cause.
Huge columns of smoke rose into the sky earlier Tuesday as flames chewed through stands of pine west of Interstate 5 in the Lebec area of Tejon Pass, about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Lebec is one of several small communities along I-5 in the pass, which rises to an elevation of more than 4,000 feet between the southern San Joaquin Valley and the Los Angeles metropolitan region.
The National Weather Service forecast the return of high temperatures Wednesday morning, with high pressure over the Southwest keeping things hot through Thursday, possibly at record levels in some areas. The high will weaken on Friday and allow some cooling, the NWS said.
Elsewhere in the state, a lightning-sparked blaze burning in Yosemite National Park since Aug. 9 had blackened a total of 160 acres in the Lake Vernon area north of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The National Park Service said crews were managing the fire for ecological benefits.