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Once-raging Calif. wildfires tame on July 4th

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July 3, 2014: Horses cross a pasture as the Butts fire burns above Snell Valley, California. (Reuters)

A wildfire that destroyed two homes left a Southern California mountain town without its popular Fourth of July celebrations, but the blaze, along with another in Northern California, remained tame Friday, bringing no new destruction, threats or evacuations.

The fire near the historic gold mining town of Julian in San Diego County had consumed 217 acres by Friday, a day after it broke out, burned two homes and forced hundreds of evacuations that have all been called off.

But the lingering threat of the fire and the need to use roads for the firefight forced the city to take the year off from its festive Fourth of July celebration that usually draws from 3,000 to 5,000 people.

"It's a big day for Julian," Michael Hart, publisher of local paper The Julian News, told U-T San Diego.

The same area near Cleveland National Forest is where an 11-square-mile blaze destroyed more than 100 mountain cabins just a year ago.

Meanwhile, crews gained ground on a fire in rural Napa County that broke out Tuesday and grew initially by several hundred acres an hour because of the dry conditions.

Firefighters held the blaze at 4,300 acres, or about 6 square miles, on Friday and increased containment to 55 percent, up from 30 percent on Thursday, thanks to favorable weather conditions that allowed crews to burn away fuel on the fire's Lake County flank. The fire was no longer threatening any homes.

"While we've turned the corner, while we've slowed down this fire, there's still a lot of work ahead of us," state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

The fire has damaged nine structures, including the two homes, but the fire was burning to the north, away from the county's famed vineyards.

Residents in nearly 200 homes in a subdivision in the county's Pope Valley were allowed to return after an evacuation order was lifted Thursday afternoon.

Neither fire has led to any injuries. The causes of both remained unknown.

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