Los Angeles - Fierce Santa Ana winds subsided Wednesday, helping thousands of firefighters reign in blazes that had threatened to shoot to the Pacific ocean through the network of canyons that ring Los Angeles.
The blazes claimed two lives and burned 7,200 hectares acres at the start of the season in which the hot Santa Ana winds roar in from the desert and fan ferocious fires.
That toll was seen as a lucky let-off after fire managers had warned earlier in the week that the winds could easily turn the fires into unstoppable wall of flames.
Climatologists warned that the fires came during the first 10 per cent of the season, and that worse conflagrations are bound to follow unless the region gets serious rainfall in the coming days. No rain is currently forecast.
"The potential for heavy winds is there," said Ventura County fire spokesman Tom Kruschke. "We'll have to wait and see what Mother Nature brings us."
The worst fire was the Sesnon fire in the Porter Ranch area which was 20 per cent contained Wednesday and had burnt 15 homes and 47 structures. The Marek fire that started in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest was 80 per cent contained, while a third fire at the massive military base Camp Pendelton was 60 per cent contained.
The fires prompted a declaration of emergency by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and more than 3,600 firefighters were mobilized to try to contain the blazes. (dpa)
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