Wednesday, Jul 27, 2016
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Firefighters make progress battling destructive Southern California wildfire; 26 homes burned

BANNING, Calif. — Firefighters made steady progress Saturday in battling Southern California’s latest destructive wildfire, which burned 26 homes and threatened more than 500 others in the San Jacinto Mountains.

The so-called Silver Fire, which charred 30 square miles in three days, was 70 percent surrounded. The fire stopped advancing Saturday as firefighters focused on extinguishing hot spots.

Full containment was expected today.

The blaze injured 10 firefighters and seriously burned a mountain biker who was overrun by the fast-moving flames when the fire erupted Wednesday.

At its peak, the fire forced the evacuation of 1,800 people, including 800 campers. Evacuation orders for several communities remained in effect.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency for the area Friday, freeing up additional funds and resources for the firefight and recovery.

Most of Southern California’s severe wildfires are associated with Santa Ana winds, caused by high pressure over the West that sends a clockwise flow of air rushing down into the region.

This week’s fire, however, was being fanned by a counter-clockwise flow around a low pressure area over northwest California. The National Weather Service said conditions could change in the second half of next week, with weaker winds in the mountains and deserts.

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