The Latest: Containment begins on LA-area wildfires

AP News
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Posted: Jun 21, 2016 11:21 PM
The Latest: Containment begins on LA-area wildfires

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning in the West (all times local):

8 p.m.

Firefighters have stopped the progress of a pair of major wildfires burning in the foothills of Los Angeles suburbs.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy says the blazes burning near the cities of Duarte and Azusa are 10 percent contained Tuesday night.

Officials also have reduced the combined size of the fires from about 8½ square miles to about 7½ square miles. Judy says the change came because clearer skies allowed better aerial mapping of the blaze.

Despite the progress, Judy says it will be at least one more night before anyone can return to any of the hundreds of homes evacuated because of the fires.

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5 p.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has declared a state of emergency for Navajo County to free up funds to help fight a wildfire that has charred about 56 square miles so far.

Ducey made the announcement Tuesday afternoon, saying the declaration will release state dollars to assist with local response and recovery efforts and ensure appropriate state agencies are at the ready should they be called upon.

The fire began June 15. Its cause remains under investigation.

It's 20 percent contained and remains about 2½ miles north of the sparsely-populated community of Cedar Creek.

Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside and the immediate surrounding areas also remain under pre-evacuation notices.

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4:05 p.m.

Navopache Electric Cooperative has de-energized the power lines to three eastern Arizona towns on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation to help crews battling a wildfire.

Authorities say the interruption of electricity Tuesday in Cedar Creek, Cibecue and Carrizo is necessary to protect firefighters while they conduct burnout operations near the power lines.

The fire that began June 15 now is about 56 square miles and is expected to grow a few more square miles Tuesday.

It's 20 percent contained and remains about 2 ½ miles north of the sparsely-populated community of Cedar Creek.

Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside and the immediate surrounding areas also remain under pre-evacuation notices.

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3:15 p.m.

California authorities have ordered 600 homes evacuated due to a wildfire near Potrero, a town southeast of San Diego near the border with Mexico.

Cal Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser estimates the evacuation ordered Tuesday involves more than 1,500 people.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department says the area is the community of Lake Morena Village northwest of the city of Campo.

The department says alerts were sent to 476 telephone numbers, along with 120 text messages and 103 emails.

An earlier evacuation involved 75 people.

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1:40 p.m.

Officials have evacuated about 100 homes in a southwest Utah mountain town as a wildfire less than a mile away is moving down a rocky slope toward the community.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Cigi (SEE-gee) Burton says the evacuated area is a subdivision that includes summer homes in the town of Pine Valley, about 35 miles north of the city of St. George. A nearby campground area was also evacuated and several roads and trails were closed.

Burton says drone sightings in recent days forced firefighters to ground their aircraft, stopping their progress on the fire, which kicked up Tuesday morning.

Burton says the lightning-sparked wildfire is less than a square mile. It's been burning since June 13 but firefighters have been relying heavily on aircraft to stop the flames because it is burning in a rugged, steep area.

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11:45 a.m.

Southern California air pollution regulators have issued a smoke advisory due to two wildfires burning in the San Gabriel Mountains 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District said the smoke is moving eastward Tuesday toward the inland region.

Areas of unhealthy air quality are likely to range from the San Gabriel Valley into San Bernardino and Riverside counties

Mountains and deserts remain extremely hot but the National Weather Service says the heat wave that has fried Southern California with extraordinary temperatures is moderating, especially toward the coast.

At midmorning Tuesday, the temperature in downtown Los Angeles was 16 degrees lower than at the same time 24 hours earlier, when it was nearing 100.

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11:20 a.m.

Authorities say record-breaking weather caused a wildfire in eastern Arizona to grow by nearly 22 square miles in one day.

Officials expect the fire to grow a few more square miles Tuesday.

Extreme heat and low humidity Monday made the terrain more ignitable than usual, bringing the fire's size to about 56 square miles. The fire is 20 percent contained.

Fire spokeswoman Katy Gray says residents are still under pre-evacuation notice. The fire is about 2 ½ miles north of the sparsely-populated community of Cedar Creek.

Increased humidity and cooler temperatures Tuesday could help firefighting efforts, but will also bring more erratic winds and evening thunderstorms.

The blaze began June 15, and its cause is under investigation.

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10 a.m.

Hundreds of firefighters have cleared the way for some evacuees to return to their homes in central New Mexico.

Authorities in Bernalillo and Torrance counties lifted evacuation orders in some areas Tuesday after crews contained nearly half of a wildfire that has destroyed two dozen homes.

National Guard and law enforcement officers are stationed along main roads to check IDs as people return. Gov. Susana Martinez planned to be among those working the checkpoints.

The governor is urging federal authorities to assess damage so preparations can be made before monsoon season brings possible flooding problems.

The human-caused fire was reported June 14. It raced across 28 square miles of tinder-dry forest in the Manzano Mountains south of Albuquerque until more favorable weather helped to slow its growth.

In northern New Mexico, crews contained a fire that had threatened popular recreation spots in the Jemez Mountains.

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7:35 a.m.

Firefighters hope to begin building containment lines around two wildfires in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy says the fires a few miles apart above foothill suburbs have together burned nearly 8½ square miles as of Tuesday morning but no homes have been lost.

The heat wave that has seared Southern California since last weekend will not be as extreme as it was on Monday, but firefighters will be facing near-triple-digit temperatures and single-digit humidity.

West of Santa Barbara, firefighters have increased containment of a nearly 12½-square-mile blaze to 70 percent a week after it started.

Weather is expected to remain favorable for several days and mandatory evacuation orders will start to be reduced Wednesday.

East of San Diego, a wildfire burning near the desert town of Potrero is holding at just under 12 square miles although it remains only 5 percent contained.