Los Angeles - The massive fire that has burned more than 58,000 hectares around Los Angeles was sparked by arson, California authorities said Thursday.
Two firefighters were killed while battling the blaze, and police have now launched homicide investigations, officials said.
"Arson investigators have concluded that the Station Fire was the result of an arson," Forest Service Commander Rita Wears told reporters at a press conference.
The fire is the largest in the history of Los Angeles County and has destroyed 62 homes.
The arson finding came as thousands of firefighters in California continued to make gains on the conflagration. The fire is now 38-per- cent contained with full containment expected by September 15.
Though the fire still is classified as a threat to some 12,000 homes, it was moving in the direction of remote wilderness areas Thursday, and many homeowners returned to find their houses undamaged but for a layer of soot.
"We were very fortunate," said Lillian Guarino, 89, who lives with her daughter in La Canada Flintridge, one of the most threatened of the foothill communities. "This is the second fire we have had to go through and hopefully the last."
Fire officials said they had won the battle to save the historic Mount Wilson Observatory, a century-old technology compound that now houses many of the television and cellphone towers that serve the Los Angeles region.
"We're pretty confident," Los Angeles County fire inspector Edward Osorio told the Los Angeles Times. "Mount Wilson is going to be OK." (dpa)
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