The fires that have hit Southern California have been linked to three deaths as officials on Sunday continue to gain ground.
In the Saddleridge fire that swept across the San Fernando Valley foothills, a man in his late 50s died after suffering a heart attack while talking with firefighters early Friday.
In the Sandalwood fire that burned dozens of mobile homes in Calimesa, two people died.
Family members of Lois Arvickson confirmed the 89-year-old died in the fire. Don Turner, Arvickson’s son, and his wife, Kimberly, spent Thursday night at an evacuation center, desperate to hear news of his mother, who lived alone at the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park. She was on the phone with her son when the blaze, dubbed the Sandalwood fire, reached the park.
Kimberly Turner said neighbors reported seeing Arvickson get in her car to leave, but they don’t know what happened next. The Turners saw TV news coverage that showed Arvickson’s home destroyed by fire and the car still in the driveway.
On Friday night, Riverside County fire officials discovered the remains of a second victim at the park.
All evacuation orders were lifted Saturday afternoon as firefighters continued to make progress battling the 7,900 acre-Saddleridge fire that had shut down freeways and sent thousands fleeing from their homes.
Slightly cooler temperatures and lighter winds aided crews on their third day fighting the fire, which blackened hillsides from Porter Ranch to Sylmar, officials said. As of Saturday evening, the fire was 33% contained.
The fire has destroyed or damaged at least 31 structures, officials said.
In Calimesa, the blaze has destroyed 76 homes and buildings and damaged 14 others.