Latest: More residents return, crews gain on California fire

AP News
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Posted: Aug 20, 2016 4:06 PM
Latest: More residents return, crews gain on California fire

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

12:45 p.m.

More residents are returning as crews make significant gains against a Southern California wildfire that officials now say has destroyed more than 100 homes.

Fire spokesman Brad Pitassi says evacuation orders for Wrightwood went from mandatory to advisory Saturday afternoon. Sheriff's deputies will make sure that only residents are returning to the mountain town of about 4,500 residents.

Pitassi says damage assessment teams have found 9 more burned homes, bringing the preliminary total to 105. At least 213 outbuildings have burned.

The blaze in mountain areas is 68 percent contained. It has burned 58 square miles.

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9:00 a.m.

Fire crews overnight made progress containing an arson fire that has destroyed almost 200 homes.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Saturday that the blaze in the working-class community of Lower Lake was 80 percent contained after destroying at least 300 structures, including 189 homes and eight businesses.

More than 1,200 firefighters are battling the 6-square-mile blaze that started Aug. 13 and spread to the community's downtown area and many residential neighborhoods.

Damin Pashilk, of nearby Clearlake, is charged with 14 counts of arson in connection to the Lower Lake blaze and 11 other fires dating back to July 2015.

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8:15 a.m.

It was another successful night in the battle against a massive wildfire in Southern California that has destroyed at least 96 homes.

Fire spokesman Brad Pitassi said early Saturday that the blaze in mountain areas of San Bernardino County is 68 percent contained.

Pitassi says officials hope to let thousands of evacuated residents return home this weekend. Some evacuation orders were lifted Friday.

A preliminary damage report finds 96 homes and 213 outbuildings were destroyed in the blaze that broke out Tuesday.

More damage might be discovered as firefighters pore through the aftermath of the fire that has burned 58 square miles about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.