October 15, 2008

No Rain Forecast to Douse Calif. Fires

Calmer winds have helped California firefighters battle twin fires in California's San Fernando Valley but another blaze has consumed more than 13,000 acres.

The Santa Ana winds, which fed the Southern California wildfires, were expected to dissipate Wednesday but fire officials say the Santa Ana winds season has just begun and no rain is in the forecast anytime soon, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Fire officials blame the twin blazes for two deaths -- four people have died since the latest round of fires began -- destroyed 49 structures and charred 18,000 acres.

"This was a preview of coming attractions," said William Patzert, a climatologist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge. "Now we're in a race with Mother Nature. What comes first? More Santa Anas or rain?"

The Sesnon fire, which started Monday, swelled to 13,200 acres overnight Tuesday.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department reported the 4,800-acre Marek fire in Lake View Terrace was 70 percent contained. In San Diego County, officials said the Juliet fire at Camp Pendleton spread to 3,600 acres and was 60 percent contained. East of San Diego, the 200-acre Shockey fire that erupted early Tuesday was about 70 percent contained by evening. A fire in the Little Mountain area of San Bernardino County was contained at 100 acres.