LOS ANGELES – Easing winds and the efforts of more than 5,700 firefighters contributed to progress Friday against three wildfires in Los Angeles County, but the largest of the blazes plaguing California continued to rage out of control as US President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration for the state.
The first fire broke out Monday in Ventura County.
Intense Santa Ana winds spread the flames across a wide area of Southern California, consuming 59,706 hectares (147,423 acres) in all and driving 212,000 people from their homes.
The blazes have destroyed nearly 500 structures.
The Skirball fire, which consumed a half-dozen mansions in Los Angeles’ wealthy Bel Air area, was 30 percent contained by Friday morning and some residents who had been evacuated returned to their homes.
Even so, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the city and county will remain on high alert for at least several more days.
He said that the Creek fire, blamed for destroying 33 homes, was 40 percent contained.
The blaze accounting for the lion’s share of the destruction, the Thomas fire in Ventura County, was only 10 percent contained on Friday, when Trump declared a state of emergency in response to a request from California Gov. Jerry Brown.
In San Diego County, authorities said they were making headway against the Lilac fire, which erupted late Thursday.
Thanks to a reduction in the winds, the flames did not spread overnight.
“It seems like the fire has diminished considerably over the last few hours,” Cal Fire Capt. Jon Heggie said before dawn.
The Lilac fire wiped out 65 mobile homes at Rancho Monserate Country Club and killed an estimated two-dozen horses at San Luis Rey Downs horse training center, authorities said.
Financial consultancy CoreLogic published an analysis Friday indicating that more than 86,000 Southern California homes are potentially at risk from the wildfires
Of that total, 16 percent were classified as facing “high” or “extreme” risk and the cost of rebuilding those structures was calculated at more than $5 billion.