Firefighters Gain Ground On 2 Big California Blazes But A 3rd Gains Strength
Fire crews in California were battling three major wildfires, gaining ground on two of them but hampered by steep terrain while fighting a third blaze.
In central California, the Mineral Fire saw "extreme fire behavior" overnight, burning 5,000 acres off Highway 198 in Fresno County, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. As of Wednesday afternoon, the blaze was just 10 percent contained despite the efforts of some 1,000 fire personnel.
East of Los Angeles, favorable weather conditions helped efforts to contain the Pilot Fire in the San Bernardino Mountains, which had been fueled by drought-stricken vegetation and gusting winds.
The fire was 64 percent contained as of Wednesday afternoon.
Despite that progress, mandatory and voluntary evacuations for 5,300 homes remained in place, and as KPCC reports, several school districts stayed closed:
"All schools in the Hesperia, Apple Valley and Oro Grande unified districts were closed Wednesday due to the Pilot Fire's effect on air quality, but containment is now at 64 percent, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
"Apple Valley schools had already been closed Tuesday because of the poor air quality and they had previously planned to reopen Wednesday. Hesperia Unified noted that it was closing Tuesday as a precaution as the fire shifted north.
"The fire had gained federal attention on Tuesday."
You can follow the Pilot Fire with member station KPCC's fire tracker here:
To the north, in Monterey County, the state's largest active wildfire consumed an additional 100 square miles, but crews had it 50 percent contained.
The Soberanes Fire has burned away almost 69,000 acres north of Big Sur and has been blamed for one death since it was started by an illegal camp fire nearly three weeks ago.
Nearly 5,000 personnel were battling the blaze Wednesday.
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Actively burning areas of the Soberanes Fire in California can be seen from space. Details: https://t.co/XEIigofUay pic.twitter.com/gkNeQstQG3— NASA (@NASA) August 9, 2016