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Crews Make Inroads Against Wildfires

Blazes: Officials say it was a quiet day as winds fanned a few hotspots. The Copper fire near Saugus is contained.

June 12, 2002|From Times Staff Writers

Strong breezes fanned new hot spots across the Sespe Wilderness on Tuesday, but the 22,000-acre wildfire in Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai failed to gain much ground, officials said.

"It's been quiet all day," said Jim Renshaw, an engineer with the Ventura County Fire Department. "There are a few areas that have acted up because it got drier and hotter again."

Another large blaze, the 23,400-acre Copper fire in the Angeles National Forest near Saugus, was declared 100% contained Tuesday night. Firefighters "will be working the hot spots for the next couple of days," said Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman Mark Savage. "But we've cut a fuel break completely around it."

The blaze, started last Wednesday by sparks from a welder's torch, had threatened to burn down the 1,100-resident community of Green Valley. Nine homes were lost.

Fire crews at Tuesday morning's planning session for the fire near Ojai said two hand crews cutting fire lines on each side of the blaze made significant progress overnight even as the small flare-ups continued to burn.

The fire remained 75% contained, and officials expected to have it under control by Friday evening. Several helicopters used to fight the fire were unable to take off Tuesday morning because of dense fog in Ojai but were airborne by noon, Renshaw said. The cause of the blaze, which began June 1 along California 33 about 12 miles north of Ojai, has not been determined. The fire has cost federal, state and local agencies $11.9 million. About 1,000 firefighters are still on the lines, Renshaw said.

The firefighters' base camp in Ojai's Soule Park will remain at least through June 21.

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