US & Canada

California wildfires: Blue Cut blaze curbed as evacuees return

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Media captionWatch: The man who owned the Summit Inn on Route 66 for 50 years visits its charred ruin on Friday, saying "it's over"

Firefighters in California have gained ground in tackling the massive Blue Cut wildfire, containing around 40% and allowing many evacuees to return home.

But it was also revealed that some 96 homes had been destroyed in the fire since it broke out on Tuesday.

Some 58 sq miles (150 sq km) have been charred in San Bernardino County, 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

Several more fires continue to burn in other drought-stricken parts of California.

In pictures: Devastation from California wildfires

Fire spokesman Brad Pitassi said late on Friday: "It's looking very good", adding that more gains were expected on Saturday, despite firefighters continuing to face dry, hot and windy weather.

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Image caption The well-known Summit Inn on Route 66 was destroyed
Image copyright AFP
Image caption A helicopter drops water on a burning hillside in Keenbrook

He said the number of buildings destroyed could have been far higher.

Blue Cut, named after a narrow gorge where the blaze broke out, had led to an evacuation order for 82,000 people on Tuesday.

Many people have now been allowed to return but others were left homeless.

Johanna Santore was running an errand when the fire gutted her home. She fears she may have lost her pets.

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Media captionBen Rich looks at how weather conditions have impacted the fires burning across California

"I'm actually feeling numb,'' she told Associated Press from an evacuation centre. "It's like a nightmare. We don't plan on rebuilding. We plan on leaving."

Other fires still burning around the state include:

  • Santa Barbara County: Two campgrounds evacuated
  • North of San Francisco: Lower Lake fire now 75% contained after destroying 175 homes
  • Sierra Nevada's Sequoia National Forest: Several hamlets evacuated

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