Firefighters gain in CA

Fires that destroyed homes and burned thousands of acres in California this week were close to being contained Thursday.

BY HEATHER MOYER | CORONA, Calif. | May 6, 2004

Wildfires that destroyed homes and burned thousands of acres in southern California earlier this week were close to being fully contained Thursday.

Thousands of evacauted residents in Corona and Temecula are now allowed to return home as fire officials expect both the El Cerrito and Eagle fires to be contained by some time on Friday.

Gene Ostrander, spokesperson for the Riverside County Fire Department, said good weather and tough firefighters helped bring these fires under control. "We had a rise in humidity and lower temperatures," he said. "And the firefighters did some hard work yesterday."

The Eagle fire burned 14 homes and 11 outbuildings in Temecula, along with an artist colony's nine cabins in the mountains. The 5,000 acre fire is now 70% contained.

In Corona, the El Cerrito wildfire is now 65% contained after burning over 10,000 acres. At one point it threatened over 1,000 homes. A man has been arrested and charged with lighting the blaze.

Record high temperatures and these early wildfires caused the California Department of Forestry to declare the start of fire season Monday three weeks earlier than last year.

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