Cooler weather helps contain California wildfire's spread

A fire in the Southern California mountains was 40 percent contained on Friday, thanks to cooler weather slowing down the spread. No homes have burned but several small communities remain evacuated.

Stan Lim/The Press-Enterprise/AP
A Riverside City Fire Department water truck makes its way down a road towards the Heart Bar campground as a fire continues to burn in the San Bernardino National Forest, California, Thursday, June 25 2015.

A fire in the Southern California mountains that threatens thousands of buildings was 40 percent contained on Friday — double the previous figure — as cooler weather helped slow the spread of the blaze.

Clouds and even a few sprinkles covered the San Bernardino Mountains on Thursday, allowing more than 2,000 firefighters to make progress on the active northeast corner of the blaze.

The fire was reduced to "a lot of creeping and smoldering," said Lee Beyer of the U.S. Forest Service.

The most active area was in the high, steep, remote San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. It has no roads so crews were forced to hike in and work with hand tools, he said.

The fire, which began June 17, continued to threaten more than 7,000 buildings after burning through more than 47 square miles of desert brush and forest timber.

No homes have burned but several small communities remain evacuated.

The forecast by the National Weather Service called for a chance of weekend thunderstorms throughout the California mountains, but it could be a mixed blessing.

"Dry" thunderstorms could bring little rain but a chance of lightning and strong winds that could ignite new fires in the drought-parched trees.

State fire officials announced they were increasing staffing in both Northern and Southern California mountain areas, adding new fire crews, engines and bulldozers.

Elsewhere, a 100-acre fire outside the city of San Bernardino was 95 percent contained, and a fire in Alpine County south of Lake Tahoe was 29 percent surrounded after burning about 27 square miles.

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