Southern California wildfire 30 percent contained, weather helps

Sat May 4, 2013 11:19am EDT

May 4 (Reuters) - A fierce wildfire threatening 4,000 homes northwest of Los Angeles was about 30 percent contained on Saturday as higher humidity and cooler temperatures helped firefighters, fire department spokesmen said.

The fire in coastal Ventura County has blackened about 28,000 acres (11,300 hectares) of rugged brush land since starting on Thursday. There is no forecast for containment and the fire was not expected to be under control until May 13, Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Tom Kruschke said.

A drop from record-high temperatures on Friday and slowing, cooler winds off the Pacific Ocean were aiding the almost 1,000 firefighters brought in from across California, he said.

"We're getting much more favorable weather conditions here. We don't have the high winds and the high temperatures," Kruschke said.

Light rain forecast for Sunday and heavier precipitation expected for Monday and Tuesday also could help firefighters battling what authorities are calling the Springs Fire.

A second spokesman, Bill Nash, said firefighters were concentrating on the Newbury Park area, with the eastern end in mop-up phase.

About 4,000 homes have been threatened by the fire and 15 damaged. No injuries have been reported.

The Springs Fire and a flurry of smaller blazes around the state this week marked a sudden start to the California fire season. Some weather forecasters have predicted the season will be worsened by a summer of high temperatures and drought throughout much of the U.S. West.

The fire forced the closure of California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, where the high temperature was a record 96 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius). It is tentatively scheduled to reopen on Sunday, the school said on its website.

The blaze has sent thick smoke drifting over the beach community of Malibu and farther inland across Los Angeles County.

The Point Mugu U.S. Naval Air Station has lifted its order that all non-essential personnel stay home because of the fire. A base housing unit that is home to 118 families was evacuated on Friday because of heavy smoke, a base spokeswoman said.

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