US wildfire almost contained

US wildfire almost contained

30 October 2006

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USA — Aided by a drop in wind speed appear, firefighters appear to be winningthe battle against the 160 square kilometre bushfire.

The blaze killed four firefighters and destroyed more than 30 homes.

It left a fifth firefighter in critical condition with burns over most of hisbody.

The 16 thousand-hectare blaze, which authorities say was lit by an arsonist, ismostly contained.

The blaze still threatens a wilderness area plagued by drought and filled withdead trees, but fire officials are confident if they can keep it out of the areathey can have it under control by tomorrow night.

The blaze was still threatening a wilderness area plagued by
drought and filled with dead trees, but fire officials were confident that ifthey could keep it out of that area they could have it under control soon.

A new blaze in San Diego

As firefighters were getting the upper hand on that blaze, another broke outtoday in Warner Springs, about 70km north-east of San Diego.

That quickly blackened about 40 hectares, forcing the evacuation of severalhomes, said Captain David Janssen of the California Department of Forestry.

More than 200 firefighters, five helicopters and an air tanker rushed to thescene to save about 14 homes in the blaze’s path.

Church vigils held

Church vigils were held across Southern California today for the families ofthe four firefighters who were killed and for Pablo Cerda, 23, who was still incritical condition today after surgery on Friday to remove damaged skin.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attended one of the services before stopping by afire command centre in Beaumont this afternoon to offer words of encouragementto the 2,800 firefighters on the front lines.

“It makes me, as governor, really proud to know that we have the best ofthe best firefighters and law enforcement people in the world working to putthis fire out,” he said.

Fire officials were still concerned today about the blaze’s eastern flank, whichborders a wilderness area that has not burned in more than 30 years.

The fire was set shortly after 1am on Thursday at the base of a slope in thedesert city of Cabazon, about 16km north-west of Palm Springs.

Cabazon residents said they saw two young men leaving the fire’s ignition point,and authorities quickly declared it an act of arson.

They have withheld details of any evidence, but have acknowledged receivinghundreds of tips.

While fire crews made progress on the blaze, evacuees began returning to theirhomes over the weekend, often to find nothing left.

They were allowed in only briefly to retrieve belongings and feed or remove pets.


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