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‘Nothing but good news’: Calmed winds in California help firefighters control wildfire

WATCH: California wildfire threatens homes and crops near LA

Winds that have fanned California‘s wildfires have calmed, helping firefighters contain blazes that have destroyed homes and forced mass power outages since late last month.

“We’ve really seen the end of it,” said Patrick Burke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Services’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

“The winds have calmed down and this is nothing but good news,” he said. “It remains extremely dry too so more (fire) spreading is possible, but there are no elevated fire concerns.”

The state’s largest fire, dubbed the Kincade fire in Sonoma County’s tourist-popular wine country, was 78 per cent contained late on Sunday at the fire department’s last update. It burned nearly 32,375 hectares and destroying more than 370 structures since it started on Oct. 23, officials said.

READ MORE: Officials lift all evacuation orders for Southern California wildfire

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Firefighters working overnight into Monday to contain a Southern California wildfire made significant headway, containing 70 per cent of the blaze with the aid of cooler weather and lighter winds after it burned thousands of acres of dry brush and farmland.

The Maria Fire, which broke out on Thursday near the community of Santa Paula about 110 km northwest of downtown Los Angeles, had destroyed two structures and burned more than 3,800 hectares, the Ventura County Fire Department said on Sunday.

Firefighters paid close attention to the county’s avocado and citrus orchards threatened by the flames, the Los Angeles Times reported.

California residents face new challenge from wildfires – insurance
California residents face new challenge from wildfires – insurance

Evacuation orders in Ventura County were lifted on Saturday, when the fire department said the blaze was 20 per cent contained. More than 10,000 residents had previously been told to evacuate at the peak of the fire’s rapid spread.

Southern California Edison has told state authorities that 13 minutes before the fire started, it began to re-energize a circuit near where flames first erupted, said a spokesman for the utility, Ron Gales.

READ MORE: Trump and California governor trade barbs on Twitter over wildfires

Southern California Edison had shut off power in the area because of concerns that an electrical mishap could spark a wildfire. The utility and fire officials have said the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

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Some smaller fires have broken out, including the so-called Ranch fire in Tehama County, which has burned about 190 hectares of brush and chaparral, with some evacuations advised late Sunday but none ordered, officials said. No structures were reported damaged.