Firefighters Gain Advantage on 2 California Wildfires

Mild winds and moist air helped firefighters gain the advantage on two wildfires that have burned through nearly 15,000 acres of dry brush in Southern California.

Firefighters had a blaze in the San Bernardino National Forest 53 percent surrounded by late Monday, said fire spokeswoman Norma Bailey. They were aided by winds of just 2 to 3 mph and 65 percent humidity.

"We've had some good news," Bailey said.

The blaze has charred 14,039 acres - or about 22 square miles - since it started Friday. Authorities said earlier the fire burned well over 15,000 acres but revised the number after new mapping Monday.

About 340 residents of the Fawnskin area remained evacuated. Another 1,200 who voluntarily left their homes in Green Valley Lake had returned, officials said.

Actress Shirley Jones and her husband, producer Marty Ingels, evacuated their 17-acre hilltop estate in the town of Fawnskin. Jones said flames could be seen just a few hundred yards from their property.

"It's all up to God and the shifting winds," she said in a prepared statement. "This is a real nailbiter."

Extra firefighters were on duty to protect structures and prevent flames from pushing into Fawnskin. The fire burned several outbuildings at a campground.

Stretches of highways 18 and 38 remained closed. Six schools in the Bear Valley Unified School District canceled classes as a precaution, affecting 3,200 students.

In eastern San Diego County, a wildfire northeast of Julian had burned 850 acres and was 75 percent surrounded. The fire, which authorities said was started by an illegal campfire, was expected to be fully contained by Wednesday.

The blaze led to the evacuation of about 400 people from the nearby subdivision of Whispering Pines. Residents in the southern part of the subdivision were allowed back in their homes.
One vacation home was destroyed and five outbuildings were damaged.