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Southern Cali. wildfire 'didn't happen overnight'

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (AP) - Authorities say a thousand-acre wildfire in the foothills east of Los Angeles did not grow overnight and is now 10 percent contained.

U.S. Forest Service officials say crews building containment lines around the blaze Thursday are focusing on the fire's west edge, where structure protection is in place.

Mandatory evacuation orders for 1,650 homes were canceled, though residents are urged to prepare to leave at a moment's notice.

Hot Santa Ana winds are forecast to return, prompting officials to order nine schools near the fire to remain closed. Temperatures in the area are expected to top 100 degrees.

Officials hope calmer winds will allow firefighting helicopters to take to the air.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Firefighters battling a smoky blaze in the foothills east of Los Angeles took advantage of cooler early-morning conditions as they braced for the return of gusty winds that initially pushed the fire in the direction of more than 1,500 homes.

Hot Santa Ana winds were forecast to return Thursday, prompting officials to order nine schools near the blaze above Rancho Cucamonga to remain closed. Temperatures in the area were expected to top 100 degrees.

As winds that had gusted to 80 mph Wednesday eased during the evening, mandatory evacuation orders for 1,650 homes were canceled, though residents were urged to prepare to leave at a moment's notice.

The fire erupted Wednesday morning in the foothills of the San Bernardino National Forest and quickly burned across 1,000 acres of brush. The U.S. Forest Service continued to cite that figure late Wednesday, indicating the fire hadn't grown for several hours. No containment estimate was given.

Meanwhile, more than 700 firefighters remained on the front lines, fighting the blaze with 55 fire engines and four bulldozers. High winds prevented them from using aircraft.

The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning of extremely dangerous fire conditions for Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties until 8 p.m.

On Wednesday, as the flames raced through heavy brush, some of which last burned a decade ago, homes not even in the fire's path were threatened.

A blaze fanned by gusts "tends to throw embers and brands ahead of itself, sometimes a mile," U.S. Forest Service spokesman Chon Bribiescas said. "That's the insidious part of a wind-driven fire."

Leo Lemelin, 67, and his family busily loaded several cars with belongings as they prepared to leave the area.

"We're trying to pack up everything we can into our cars from 45 years of marriage and eight grandchildren," he told the Riverside Press-Enterprise (http://bit.ly/1ftmqok).

The fire was burning out of control but had run out of fuel in some areas, while firefighters and bulldozers cut away brush in others, Bribiescas said. The only structure reported burned was a fence.

The winds also fanned a handful of small brush fires around Southern California, but they were quickly doused.

At one point, utilities reported about 8,000 people had lost power Wednesday because of downed power lines and other wind-related problems.

The fire erupted in the midst of a heat wave that has sent Southern California temperatures soaring into the 90s in some areas. High temperatures were expected to continue through Saturday, with humidity in the single digits.

Evacuations Ordered For 1,650 Homes As Fire Burns More Than 800 Acres

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mwoosley3 May 01 2014 at 3:25 PM

Thirty + years ago, I lived about a mile or so south of the point of origin of this fire..The area then was lightly populated, with much of the land used for grape vineyards for the local wineries that used to be in the area..

In the thirty + years since then, the area has gone through several housing booms, with cheaper land and more affordable housing than available in LA and Orange counties causing the Rancho Cucamonga area to grow from around 15,000 in population to north of 200,000..

Fires, floods, smog, and earthquakes..Plus awful traffic and high taxes still can't overcome how nice it is to pick fresh tomatos from my plant in December..

Keep on hatin, haters...

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1 reply
JOY MARIE mwoosley3 May 02 2014 at 3:51 AM

Do Haters feel good after posting hateful coments? Seems mixed up to me, try thinking with your hearts, we all have them, we all have problems, and we all work thru them the best we can, some times we stumbel, but we need to get back up and do the best for all Humans, Think can we leave this generation better than it started? I have faith in human nature, we all have to start with our selves and believe each of us can make a difference in a better tomorrow. God Bless you all at these times. and all our tomorrows.

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coloradokeiths May 01 2014 at 4:13 PM

I hope that everyone comes out unscathed. But I have one suggestion for America. Diversify where we live and work. If people were scattered here and there, and work with it, everytime we have one of these horrible acts happen it would not effect so many people. Whether the east coast, the west coast or major cities in between, when you have 100's of thousands of people living in close proxcimity to each other and a wild fire or earhtquake happen yes it wipes out a lot of people. Maybe if we can get employers to spread out, their employee base will spread out and not everyone will be crammed into one little area.

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gancy0217 May 01 2014 at 5:49 PM

The reason the potential for damage from this fire is so bad is because of the strong winds. Some of the gusts were nearing hurricane force, without the rain. The Santa Ana winds through this area are frequently strong, but not usually this strong. The area is called a wind tunnel because the winds are funneled through the canyons to the north east. When it burns the brush it can create extremely hot fire storms. In the late 60's we lost a barn to one of these fires. Based on what little was left it burned in excess of 2000 degrees. Nothing stays wet long at those temperatures.

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ajt1025 May 01 2014 at 2:58 PM

Sounds like the news media is dissapointed because nothing happened?? Need that drama in the news today.

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bag370 May 01 2014 at 4:47 PM

floods, earthquakes, fires, and Jerry Brown, CA cannot catch a break.

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1 reply
Mark bag370 May 01 2014 at 5:46 PM

Spoken like someone who doesn't live in California. I do, I like Jerry Brown and will vote for him again as for the rest of the country keep your opinions to yourself we choose to simply fly over your states and try to picture them and you not being there

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sjk1335 May 01 2014 at 2:22 PM

Pick any part of the country and you will find nature plagues all the states, blizzards, drought, hurricanes, floods, tornados, etc. So just where should people live? Why not have prayers or just good thoughts for those people and let it go. We have enough snide remarks, try some nice ones/

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JOY MARIE May 01 2014 at 5:39 PM

water around the flames, soak the area , things can't burn that are wet.

X hubby started a fire once, I had comented on our 5 acreas that we should burn the tall stuff, grass ect. Well of course 1st ya dig around it to make a break area, but I didn't get to coment on that. he who does not smoke , pulled matches from some where, and lit the back yard. we did not have a hose that would reach were we stood, soon the small spot grew so large he couldn't hear me over the flames. with rakes in hand, which we ran for. his being plastic, melted, now a stick. mine metal, but it was the water storage, gallons we had stocked up on. the kids ran with the gallons to us. we had 3 kids. I pored the water around the fire, ouside of it, with low winds it didn't jump. he was poring on the fire, it was growing toward him. I tried screaming, he couldn't hear me. I ran around the fire to him. and showed him what to do. make the area wet out side of the fire. we got it out, but 2 acreas br

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1 reply
JOY MARIE JOY MARIE May 01 2014 at 5:40 PM

burnt, the neighbors sat and watched thru their windows. .
Glad I realised WET DOES NOT BURN. stop any flying embers any way possible

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kmcc895370 May 01 2014 at 1:30 PM

God bless these poor people and the authorities trying to help them.

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Old Fox Inn Inc. May 01 2014 at 1:24 PM

California is like a box of cereal ..... what aint fruits or nuts are flakes ....

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1 reply
Tuhloola11 Old Fox Inn Inc. May 01 2014 at 1:37 PM

Clever. How long did it take you to think that one up? Or, did you hear it on FOX noise ?

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1 reply
GRAMPZ Tuhloola11 May 01 2014 at 2:59 PM

It would do you good to really pay attention and analyze what is said on Fox News. Who knows, you might just realize the truthfullness of their news reports.

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sopranosly May 01 2014 at 9:30 PM

Fires, Floods, Mud slides, drought this state whines about everything,People build houses on the side of the hills ( Real good Idea ) then cry when it rains. Don't clear the brush to stop fires because some hill mouse might die from the lack of cover. over farming and populating areas with no water. then taxing the hell out of everyone who do works then give the rest to those who don't....Move and fast

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1 reply
Jim Taylor sopranosly May 02 2014 at 5:21 AM

Finally had the sense to move after 40 years of all that crap....the major problem is really over population and the fact that most people in California don't live in a real world....everything is a movie set and everyone knows that movie sets can't hurt you....NOT!

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