California Springs fire eases due to damper air

Footage shows firefighters making the most of falling temperatures, as the BBC's Peter Bowes reports

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A wildfire threatening thousands of homes in southern California is being contained because of cool air blowing in from the Pacific, firefighters say.

They say hot, dry winds have now been replaced by the normal flow of damper air, reducing fire activity.

"The fire isn't really running and gunning," said Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Tom Kruschke.

Thousands of firefighters have been battling the blaze in the Santa Monica Mountains north-west of Los Angeles.

The fire was 56% per cent surrounded on Saturday, officials said. No injuries have been reported.

Dubbed the Springs Fire, it has damaged just 15 properties but thousands of others are at risk.

'Pretty close'
California map

After breaking out on Thursday, the fire quickly swept through the Camarillo Springs area on Friday and early on Saturday.

It forced the closure of a section of the Pacific Coast Highway and threatened a naval facility.

But later on Saturday humidity levels rose. Despite the favourable conditions, evacuation orders remained in place for residences in several areas.

Local people were grateful so many homes had escaped the blaze.

"It came pretty close," Shayne Poindexter was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency. "All of these houses - these firemen did a tremendous job. Very, very thankful for them."

Properties in the Springs area were well prepared for the fire after years of planning. Homes were built with sprinkler systems and fireproof exteriors from the roofs to the foundations.

Residents are required to clear brush and other combustible materials to within 100ft (30m) of the dwellings and local roads were built wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles.

It is more usual for such wildfires to flare up in September or October, after the summer has dried out hillside vegetation, but the region saw a severe drought during the past year.

Fire crews have tackled more than 680 wildfires in California so far this year, some 200 more than average for the period.

Other fires have been burning this week in Riverside County, in the hills above Glendale and in Tehama County, northern California.

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