Firefighters got the upper hand today on an 8,200-acre brush fire in Cleveland National Forest that destroyed 10 homes near Lake Elsinore in Riverside County, and they expected to have the blaze encircled by 6 p.m.
Aided by lighter winds and higher humidity, fire crews had more than 70% of the blaze surrounded this morning and began releasing some of the 2,300 people who had fought it.
Dean McAlister, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman, said crews were hiking into the rugged, charred landscape today to do battle with sections of the fire still consuming brush and timber deep inside the region. Firefighters found three more homes that had been destroyed, bringing the total to 10.
The Ortega Highway, where the blaze broke out several days ago, will remain closed through the Fourth of July weekend as crews continue to mop up, effectively shutting down several popular camp grounds and picnic spots over the busy holiday.
Meanwhile, a brush fire that burned more than 2,000 acres of mostly rugged terrain in the Antelope Valley this week was 100% contained by firefighters this morning, authorities said.