Firefighters Get Edge on Wildfires as Wind Eases
Firefighters gained the upper hand against three blazes raging over a 130-mile stretch of Southern California on Monday, as scores of residents picked over the charred remains of their homes and state officials took a new look at how to prevent a recurrence of the destruction.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called for a review of building standards for manufactured homes after nearly 500 of them went up in flames in the Oakridge Mobile Home Park in the San Fernando Valley over the weekend and the remaining 100 or so in the park were left badly damaged. Schwarzenegger also called for hospitals to examine their generators after the backup power system failed at a hospital in the center of that fire, north of downtown Los Angeles.
A calming of the Santa Ana winds — which helped propel the three vicious fires that over the course of several days consumed roughly 40,000 acres and hundreds of homes and sent five counties into states of emergency — helped firefighters who were laboring mightily. In Santa Barbara County, a fire that quickly consumed scores of luxury homes last week was almost completely under control.
In the San Fernando Valley, fires were roughly 40 percent contained. In an area south of Los Angeles, fires smoldering across two counties were also about 40 percent controlled.
In all, more than 30 people were injured in the fires, three seriously, with burns and smoke inhalation.
Smoke and ash blanketed much of Los Angeles County, with schools in some areas closed and outdoor activities curtailed because of the poor air quality.
Officials in the counties hit by fires said the causes were under investigation, though the Santa Barbara County fire was initially believed to be caused by people.
While California has adopted regulations that require ignition-resistant construction materials and roofing for manufactured residences outside mobile home parks, officials said Monday that the Schwarzenegger administration would seek to tighten those regulations for homes within them.