California firefighters get help from weather change |

California firefighters get help from weather change

BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. – Fog and drizzle Thursday came to the rescue of firefighters laboring to save resort towns in Southern California from the raging wildfires that have killed at least 20 people.

“It is helping, but it is a long way from putting any fires out,” said Ray Snodgrass, chief deputy director of the California Forestry Department. “It’s the respite we were hoping for.”

The weather helped firefighters make progress on the two fires that accounted for about 90 percent of the more than 2,600 homes lost, and all but two of the deaths: one in the mountains northeast of San Diego, the other in mountain and foothill areas in and near San Bernardino.

The weather change also brought gusting winds, but they were pushing the latter fire, covering nearly 50,000 acres, away from populated areas, San Bernardino County Fire Marshal Peter Brierty said.

“It’s a low fire,” Brierty said. “It’s kind of skunking around. As long as the current wind pattern holds, it will reduce the danger.”

In San Diego County, moist air helped firefighters battling the largest fire in state history, a 272,000-acre blaze near the historic mining town of Julian. Wind gusting to 40 mph remained a concern, even as firefighters began to focus on outlying areas.

The fire “is finally showing some sign of winding down,” San Diego County Sheriff Bill Kolender said.