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Containment increases on Southern California wildfire

September 7, 2019
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A plane drops retardant as the Tenaja Fire burns near in Murrieta, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (Cindy Yamanaka/The Orange County Register via AP)
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A plane drops retardant as the Tenaja Fire burns near in Murrieta, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (Cindy Yamanaka/The Orange County Register via AP)

MURRIETA, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters made progress Friday against a wildfire that burned dangerously close to homes in Southern California while another blaze grew in a remote area at the northern end of the state.

An approximately 3-square-mile (7.7-square-kilometer) fire that threatened the communities of Murrieta and La Cresta was 25% contained. Mandatory evacuations orders covering hundreds of homes were first downgraded to voluntary warnings and then lifted.

The fire broke out Wednesday, possibly from a lightning strike as thunderstorms moved through, and burned to the backyards of some homes when gusty winds arose Thursday afternoon.

Firefighters manned hoses and aircraft made water drops to keep flaming vegetation from engulfing houses.

“I’m thinking I’m very happy that my house is still standing,” Marian Couperthwaite told Fox 11 after returning home Friday morning.

“I’m very sad that my garden is so badly burnt. My hot tub is gone, but we are alive, my dog is alive, and the house is standing,” she said.

In Northern California, a lightning-sparked fire in a remote area of Tehama County about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of the city of Red Bluff grew to nearly 11 1/2 square miles (nearly 30 square kilometers), with only 7% containment. Evacuations were ordered for scattered rural properties.

Fires of a few thousand acres (hectares) also burned in the Modoc, Inyo and Plumas national forests.

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