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Crews Make Progress against Enormous LA-Area Wildfire

September 23, 2020

LOS ANGELES — Firefighters are finally starting to tame an enormous wildfire burning in the mountains northeast of Los Angeles. 

Officials are confident that crews will make more progress on the Bobcat Fire after containment on Wednesday hit 38% — a 21% jump from a day earlier — before hot, dry winds return to Southern California in a few days.

Meanwhile, a major fire in the northern part of the state, the CZU Lightning Complex in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, was 100% contained, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said Tuesday evening. The fire was ignited during a barrage of lightning on Aug. 16 and the cluster of blazes went on to destroy 925 homes and kill one person. 

Firefighters have also controlled several other lightning-sparked wildfires burning for more than a month in Northern California.

Crews battling the Bobcat Fire took advantage of two days of calmer weather after erratic winds last weekend pushed flames out of the Angeles National Forest and into communities in the desert foothills, fire spokesman Larry Smith said Wednesday. 

"Because the fire transferred out of the timber and into the light fuels near the desert, we were able to make some real progress," Smith said. Crews will shore up containment lines ahead of hotter, gusty weather predicted for the weekend, he said. 

Thousands of residents remain under evacuation orders and warnings near the fire that's now one of the largest on record in Los Angeles County. It's burned for more than two weeks in the San Gabriel Mountains and has destroyed at least 27 homes and other buildings. 

It's one of dozens of other major wildfires raging across the West, including five in California that are among the largest in state history. 

Numerous studies in recent years have linked bigger U.S. wildfires to global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas, especially because climate change has made California much drier. A drier California means plants are more flammable.

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