The Latest: Olympic fencing 'armorer' lost house in wildfire

AP News
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Posted: Aug 18, 2016 9:07 PM
The Latest: Olympic fencing 'armorer' lost house in wildfire

SANTA YNEZ, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):

6 p.m.

The equipment manager of the U.S. Olympic fencing team was among those who lost their homes to a Northern California wildfire.

Matthew Porter, the so-called armorer for the team, had bought the house in the small rural community of Lower Lake just days before he left to accompany the team to the games in Rio.

It was destroyed while he was there. Porter and his wife Karen lost everything except their pets.

Greg Massialas, head of the U.S. Olympic men's foil team that won a bronze medal in Rio, said in a statement Thursday that Porter was a critical member of the team, and it's a shame he lost so much himself while assuring that the fencers prospered.

Team members and friends have set up a gofundme page to help Porter pay for his losses.

Porter's was one of 175 homes lost to the blaze, which is still burning north of San Francisco. Authorities say it was set by a serial arsonist.

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5:45 p.m.

A wildfire has broken out in rural Santa Barbara County along California's Central Coast.

The blaze quickly surged Thursday to about 500 acres and prompted the evacuation of a public campground and a camp for boys.

The cause was unknown and there were no reports of injuries.

Another blaze near Lake Isabella in Kern and Tulare counties in the center of the state had burned more than two square miles and prompted calls for voluntary evacuations of homes in sparsely populated rural communities.

It is 5 percent contained.

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2:05 p.m.

Some evacuation orders have been lifted for residents living near a huge wildfire in Southern California.

It's the first good news for residents since authorities put more than 34,000 homes and 82,000 people under evacuation warnings in the region 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

The area where evacuations were lifted Thursday is in the Mojave Desert adjacent to the northeast corner of the 49-square-mile fire.

The semi-rural area is lightly populated, and it's unclear how many people will be able to return home.

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11:30 a.m.

A major highway near Southern California's huge wildfire has fully reopened.

The southbound lanes of Interstate 15 in Cajon Pass reopened late Thursday morning.

The northbound side reopened late Wednesday.

The interstate was shut down Tuesday when the fast-moving fire erupted 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

Interstate 15 is a major route for travelers and truckers between Southern California's population centers and Las Vegas. It also carries significant commuter traffic.

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7:10 a.m.

Southern California's big wildfire continues to grow.

The fire command says the destructive blaze has scorched more than 49 square miles as of Thursday morning, up from 40 square miles Wednesday night.

Firefighters continue to battle flames that have climbed the rugged flanks of the San Gabriel Mountains, threatening communities including the ski town of Wrightwood at an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet.

The fire erupted Tuesday morning in Cajon Pass, 60 miles east of Los Angeles, and spread rapidly.

Firefighters have yet to tally property losses but indicate there have been many.

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6:30 a.m.

Firefighters battling a 40-square-mile wildfire in the mountains and desert of Southern California face another day of hot and dry weather with gusty southwest winds.

The National Weather Service says red flag warnings for dangerous fire conditions will remain in effect through Thursday evening.

A bit of improvement is expected Friday, with lighter winds and some increase in relative humidity — moisture that helps suppress fire activity.

The fire in the Cajon Pass region 60 miles east of Los Angeles is just 4 percent contained and evacuation orders remain in effect for more than 82,000 people.

Firefighters continue to try to defend communities including Wrightwood and Lytle Creek in the rugged San Gabriel Mountains above Cajon Pass.

San Bernardino County fire officials are uncertain how many homes have burned.