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California Wildfire Spreads, Containment Not Expected This Week

Firefighters battle the Powerhouse wildfire at the Angeles National Forest, with the fire now having destroyed several homes near the Lake Hughes area in California, early morning, June 2, 2013.
A fast-moving wildfire in Southern California spread to a total of 30,000 acres over the weekend, and firefighters said they no longer think they can contain it this week.

The fire, which started Thursday, grew by 10,000 acres during the day on Sunday and overnight into Monday, U.S. Forest Service officer Ronald Ashdale said.

The blaze was 40 percent contained by Monday morning, he said, and a change in its direction meant fewer homes were now threatened: 400, down from 1,000.

Still, none of the 2,000 evacuated residents had been allowed back in their homes as of Monday morning, Ashdale said.

Despite cooler, wetter weather that moved into the region overnight, the firefighters now believe it will take them longer than they had anticipated to contain the blaze, Ashdale said. Full containment, initially predicted for Wednesday, June 5, is now not expected until next Monday, June 10, he said.

The fire started near a power plant owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in the community of Lake Hughes, about 65 miles (105 km) north of Los Angeles. By Sunday, it had destroyed six houses and forced 2,000 people out of their homes.

Ashdale said 2,185 fire personnel were fighting the blaze from several California agencies.

The U.S. Forest Service is using night-flying helicopters to help fight the fire for the first time in decades, although that is a long-standing practice among other firefighters in the region, Ashdale said.