LOS ANGELES – Firefighters battling fires raging through Western states are contending with both weather and human interference but some progress is being made. Here is a look at the largest fires Thursday:
Cooler weather helped crews fighting two fires that burned more than eight square miles of chaparral and brush in the Angeles National Forest and foothill communities northeast of Los Angeles. The fires were 15 percent contained.
More than 1,300 homes were evacuated during the four-day-old blaze, but around half have been allowed back.
On Thursday, authorities allowed hundreds of evacuated residents to return briefly to homes in Azusa and Duarte to gather belongings but they may not be allowed back permanently for several more days, officials said.
One of fires broke out Monday morning when a car ran off a highway.
No homes have burned.
Southward, near the San Diego County border with Mexico, a nearly 11-sqaure-mile fire was 20 percent contained after burning five homes and 11 outbuildings. The blaze still threatened 200 homes.
A heat wave coupled with nightly wind gusts drove the fires earlier in the week before slightly cooler weather took hold, but National Weather Service forecasts warned that red flag conditions of extreme fire danger could return by evening.
Crews battling a lightning-caused fire in southern Utah have faced record heat, nearly inaccessible terrain and, now, drone intruders.
Drones have been seen three times in three days, forcing crews to ground firefighting aircraft. One drone came within feet of a helicopter, fire officials said.
The fire has burned about a square mile near Pine Valley, north of St. George, and prompted the evacuation of 185 homes.
Visiting the scene on Wednesday, Gov. Gary Herbert said evacuations might not have been needed if drones hadn't interrupted fire operations.
The Washington County Sheriff is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the drone operator.
A forest fire near the Wyoming line threatened about 40 cabins after exploding in size to more than eight square miles, federal fire officials said.
Shifting winds sent the fire surging Wednesday from a single square mile. Trees killed by a beetle infestation fueled the flames in and around Routt National Forest, 140 miles north of Denver and 2 miles from Wyoming.
The deadwood made it too dangerous to send crews into the trees to battle the flames so they were attacking the fire's perimeter, fire information officer Brian Scott said.
While the weather was cooler, firefighters were keeping an eye on the sky. There was a chance of thunderstorms that produce little rain but might bring dangerously erratic wind gusts.
"Then it's anybody's guess where those flames will go," Scott said.
In eastern Arizona, firefighters managed to corral nearly half of a fire that roared through about 67 square miles of pine, juniper and brush on an Apache Indian reservation.
The fire was 45 percent contained.
More than 15,000 people in Pinetop-Lakeside, Show Low and nearby mountain communities still were being told to be ready to evacuate if necessary. But there was no repeat of a wind shift on Father's Day when the fire grew 14,000 acres in a single day.
Instead, crews managed to light backfires that drew a "black line" around the south end of the blaze, fire information spokeswoman Rita Baysinger said.
"They're really working their hearts out and I think we've turned a corner," she said of fire crews.
Temperatures that hit 100 degrees earlier in the week were down to the mid-90s. There was a slight chance of a thunderstorm coming but it could bring only gusty winds, not much rain, she said.
On Wednesday, there were unconfirmed reports of two drones in the fire area but aircraft operations weren't halted, Baysinger said.
"That can be extremely serious and life-threatening for firefighters on the ground," she said of the unmanned aircraft.
Another fire 10 miles southeast of Valle in Kaibab National Forest had slowed after burning through more than nine square miles of brush and timber. The fire, which started nearly a month ago, was 50 percent contained. Firefighters were cutting a perimeter but allowing the fire to burn within it to reduce restore grasslands and reduce dangerous accumulations of brush and wood.
Fire crews in north-central Nevada have fully contained a wildfire that's less than a square mile and burning in a remote area north of Gabbs, about 120 miles east of Carson City.
A fire line has been drawn completely around the blaze that was burning in grass and brush near Lodi Valley, fire officials said.
Crews halted the advance of the flames overnight and remained on the scene Thursday mopping up and putting out hotspots near Lodi Valley.
No homes were threatened. But fire officials cautioned that a "red flag warning" remained in effect for the area due to gusty winds and low relative humidity.
Damage assessments of a wildfire that's charred 28 square miles in central New Mexico are expected to start in the coming days.
Spokesman Karen Takai says assessors could begin their work in the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque as early as Thursday or Friday morning.
One of the focuses will be an area near the community of Chilili, where 24 homes and numerous other structures were destroyed. Takai says the assessors need to make sure the area is cool enough to walk through.
Fire activity in recent days has lessened thanks to cloud cover, high humidity and some rain. Forecasters are predicting more rain Thursday afternoon and again Sunday.
The blaze was nearly 70 percent contained.