- Post-Incident Video Viewing Policy
- Family Sues Albuquerque PD Over Fatal Crash
- Laser Technology, Inc. and Sr. Collision Reconstructionist to Co-host Crash Scene Mapping Webcast
- FBI: Agents Fell to Deaths Training off Virginia Coast
- Colorado Governor Delays Execution of Convicted Killer
- Massive Search Underway for Abducted Teen in Iowa
- London Police Investigate Ruthless Killing as Terror Attack
DIAMOND BAR, Calif. -- Firefighters aided by Mother Nature continued to make gains early Monday on three raging wildfires that reduced hundreds of homes to ash and cinders and forced thousands of residents to flee in Southern California.
Ferocious Santa Ana winds finally abated after fanning the blazes that have destroyed more than 800 houses, mobile homes and apartments since Thursday night from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles and counties to the east. In all, the fires burned more than 35,000 acres or 55 square miles.
In Orange and Riverside counties, the fires chewed through nearly 24,000 acres and were pushing toward Diamond Bar in Los Angeles county. A major aerial attack on Sunday raised containment to 19 percent.
Meanwhile, a 15 square-mile fire that hit hard in the Sylmar area of northern Los Angeles on Saturday had moved into the Placerita Canyon area of the rugged San Gabriel Mountains and was burning vigorously, but well outside the city. It was 40 percent contained.
The Santa Barbara-area fire that swept through tony Montecito has burned 3 square miles and was 80 percent contained.
Far away from the flames, the gains may not have been readily apparent. The smell of smoke pervaded metropolitan Los Angeles. Downtown skyscrapers were silhouettes in an opaque sky and concerns about air quality kept many people indoors. Organizers on Sunday canceled a marathon in suburban Pasadena where 8,000 runners had planned to participate.
Officials warned of another bad air day on Monday, and classes were canceled at dozens of schools near the fire zones in Orange County.
Many evacuees began the agonizing process of making their way back to their destroyed homes.
Starting Monday morning anxious residents of the Oakridge Mobile Home Park in Sylmar, where 484 homes were destroyed by fire early Saturday, will be allowed to return to inspect their property. Firefighters were able to save about 120 other homes in the community, but many were badly damaged.
Cadaver dogs had been searching the burned units to determine whether anybody perished during the fast-moving fire, but so far no bodies have been found, police said.
Tracy Burns knew her Sylmar home was gone but still wanted to get into the gated community to see what remained.
"Even those of us who know there's nothing left, we want to go in and kick over the rubble and see if we can find something, anything," Burns said.
Tears welled in her partner Wendy Dannenberg's eyes as she echoed: "If I can find one broken piece of one dish -- anything, anything at all."