Favorable Winds Help Effort Against California Fire

Firefighters were aided by winds that pushed a 20-square-mile blaze toward already burned land in Southern California, but the fire remains a threat to hundreds of homes.

The fire, which has blackened more than 13,000 acres, started Sunday near the town of Tehachapi when a single-engine Cessna crashed in a remote area of Kern County, killing two people on board. Since then, 12 homes and 18 outbuildings have been destroyed and two firefighters have been injured.

Gusts on Tuesday moved the fire away from a rugged, fuel-dense area to the northwest, fire spokesman Ian MacDonald said. About 650 homes and 200 homes were under evacuation orders.

The fire is 40 percent contained, fire officials said.

Gov. Jerry Brown has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for financial assistance to offset firefighting costs. MacDonald said 1,255 personnel have been deployed to battle flames, which are burning about 90 miles north of Los Angeles.

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The Kern County coroner's office on Tuesday identified the two men aboard the plane as Walter Johnson, 72, of Pomona, and John Nuckolls, 55, of Claremont.

In neighboring Los Angeles County, a blaze that started Monday had charred more than 500 acres in Aqua Dulce, near Newhall. It was 80 percent contained Tuesday.

It started in a trailer and barn, but no other structures were lost, county fire Inspector Quvondo Johnson said. One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion and a civilian sustained a minor injury, Johnson said.

In Los Angeles, a 40-acre fire near Interstate 405 at the Sepulveda Pass also was 80 percent contained, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Matt Spence said.