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Home-threatening Southern California wildfires on wane
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LOMPOC  (AP) — A trio of wildfires that threatened at least 100 homes on California’s Central Coast appeared to be easing Friday night. But some canyon houses remained at risk, officials said.
A half-dozen small fires that erupted along a road Friday afternoon merged into three blazes that burned 300 acres of thick manzanita, chaparral, grass and oak, Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Mike Eliason said.
Winds pushed the flames close to Lompoc neighborhoods, and about 900 people were told to evacuate, he said.
By evening, however, the winds had eased and a marine layer of cooler, wetter air was arriving. Flames that had crept close to homes and sent fiery embers into backyards had vanished from many stretches of the 300-acre fire, he said.
“Thing have died down considerably,” he said.
Some evacuations were being lifted, and the historic La Purisima Mission, founded in 1787, was no longer at immediate risk.
The northern part of the fire remained active, however, and homes and ranches in some canyons remained at risk, Eliason said.
About 270 firefighters and 11 aircraft fought the blaze. Neighborhoods were doused with colorful fire retardant from the air.
“Some of the houses are completely red; the houses, the cars, the roads, everything is painted Phos-Chek red,” Eliason said, referring to the fire retardant.
There was no immediate word on what caused the fires, although the California Highway Patrol indicated it was investigating whether a car dragging a chain might have sparked them.
Meanwhile, a Southern California fire that damaged four homes earlier in the week was 75 percent contained Friday.
The Canyon Fire that erupted Monday along the border between Corona and Anaheim turned 2,600 acres — about four square miles — of land to ash.
Firefighters managed to protect nearly 2,000 homes as the blaze shifted in unpredictable winds southeast of Los Angeles.