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Crews battle final stubborn wildfire in Southern California

Click to play video: 'California wildfire threatens homes and crops near LA' California wildfire threatens homes and crops near LA
WATCH: Firefighters and residents are exhausted after battling weeks of non-stop wildfires in California. The latest inferno, the Maria Fire, threatens thousands of homes and also crops. Jennifer Johnson reports – Nov 2, 2019

Authorities lifted evacuation orders for a farm community Saturday as firefighters make progress on a large wildfire in Southern California that continues to threaten about 2,500 homes and buildings.

Ventura County officials allowed an unknown number of residents in Somis to return home Saturday morning after firefighters contained 20 per cent of the Maria Fire, which has burned nearly 38 square kilometres and forced nearly 11,000 people to evacuate.

Click to play video: 'California residents face new challenge from wildfires – insurance' California residents face new challenge from wildfires – insurance
California residents face new challenge from wildfires – insurance – Nov 2, 2019

While fire activity subsided overnight, winds and skin-cracking low humidity were expected to enter their fourth day Saturday and make another difficult day for firefighters. Moreover, an unexpected area of clouds moved in from the south, threatening to bring lightning strikes and wind gusts of 48 kph over the region, the National Weather Service said.

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READ MORE: Winds driving California wildfires calm, but officials say danger remains

Police in Santa Monica urged beachgoers to seek shelter indoors after lighting was reported over the city.

Click to play video: 'Crews work to contain Maria Fire in Santa Paula, Calif.' Crews work to contain Maria Fire in Santa Paula, Calif.
Crews work to contain Maria Fire in Santa Paula, Calif – Nov 2, 2019

Crews battled to keep the flames away from orchards and farms in the rural area. Three buildings were destroyed.

The fire erupted on a hilltop northwest of Los Angeles on Thursday during what had been expected to be the tail end of gusty Santa Ana winds.

Click to play video: 'Relief in sight as California burns' Relief in sight as California burns
Relief in sight as California burns – Nov 1, 2019

The cause was under investigation but there was a troubling possibility that an electrical line might have been involved — as such lines have been at other recent fires.

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Southern California Edison said Friday that it re-energized a 16,000-volt power line 13 minutes before the fire erupted in the same area.

Edison and other utilities up and down the state shut off power to hundreds of thousands of people this week out of concerns that high winds could cause power lines to spark and start fires.

Click to play video: 'Ventura County sheriff details evacuations due to Maria Fire in southern California' Ventura County sheriff details evacuations due to Maria Fire in southern California
Ventura County sheriff details evacuations due to Maria Fire in southern California – Nov 1, 2019

SCE will co-operate with investigators, the utility said.

In Northern California, more people were allowed to return to areas evacuated due to the huge Kincade Fire burning for days in the Sonoma County wine country.

The 313-square-kilometre fire was 72 per cent contained, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

READ MORE: Outreach for Spanish speaking immigrants expands during California fires

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The tally of destroyed homes reached 175 and there were 35 more damaged, Cal Fire said. Many other structures also burned.

Historic, dry winds prompted the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., to initiate four rounds of widespread pre-emptive shut-offs in Northern California this month to prevent wildfires.

Click to play video: 'Aerials show new Maria wildfire burning in California' Aerials show new Maria wildfire burning in California
Aerials show new Maria wildfire burning in California – Nov 1, 2019

But the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District pegged the utility’s equipment as the cause of three smaller fires that cropped up Oct. 27 in the San Francisco Bay Area suburbs of Martinez and Lafayette.

And while the cause of the Kincade Fire hasn’t been determined, PG&E reported a problem with a transmission tower near the spot where the fire started.

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