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California blaze keeps hundreds from homes

Smoke is illuminated but the Colby Fire in Glendora, Calif., late on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014.

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By The Associated Press
Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 7:18 p.m.

GLENDORA, Calif. — A wildfire in the suburbs of Los Angeles was a smoldering shadow of its former self on Saturday, but hundreds of residents of a foothill neighborhood remained evacuated, and extremely dangerous fire conditions were expected to last well into the night.

Other evacuees returned on Friday evening to their homes, this time in Azusa, 25 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, a day after their neighbors in Glendora did the same. But one Azusa neighborhood known as Mountain Cove remained too close to the remaining fire, so its residents would have to spend an extra night away, Los Angeles County emergency officials said.

Flare-ups occurred within the burn area of about 3 square miles, but none escaped the perimeter, said Mike Wakowski, commander of the multi-agency firefighting force. Containment was estimated at 30 percent.

“Things are progressing nicely,” Wakowski said. “It's looking pretty good.”

Crews took advantage of the lower temperatures and wind conditions overnight to set backfires to take out potential fuel for the blaze and continued to mop up on Saturday.

The fire erupted early Thursday in the Angeles National Forest when Santa Ana winds hit a campfire that authorities said was recklessly set by three men. Gusts quickly spread flames from the San Gabriel Mountains into Glendora and Azusa, where 3,700 people had to evacuate at the fire's peak.

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