Winds Aid Firefighters Battling Blazes

From Times Wire Services

Aided by winds that cleared smoke without pushing flames over fire lines, firefighters gained the upper hand Tuesday over blazes that have charred 554,000 acres of Northern California forests since late August.

Dave Sandoval, a National Weather Service forecaster in Sacramento, said the cold front that moved into the fire area about midday Tuesday would probably bring winds up to 35 m.p.h. and last through today.

The weather improved conditions at the worst of the Northern California blazes in the Klamath National Forest.

"Visibility has improved, and the winds are aiding breathing by clearing away smoke," said Jon Silvius of the U.S. Forest Service. "The winds also make the fire more active, but it mostly is just challenging fire lines. There have been no significant jumps."

Meanwhile, Forest Service officials, concerned for the safety of thousands of deer hunters, Tuesday closed part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Northern California, where 5,000 firefighters were battling wildfires.

In Southern California, 200 firefighters remained on fire lines, cleaning up hot spots of an arson blaze that blackened 7,100 acres in the Cleveland National Forest. The fire was contained early Tuesday, with control expected by Friday morning. At its zenith, the fire was battled by more than 1,100 firefighters.

An investigation was continuing into how the blaze on the north side of Silverado Canyon was set. Nineteen firefighters were slightly injured.

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