The Latest: Crews gain ground on Northern California fire


SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):

9:40 a.m.

Firefighters overnight made more progress containing a wildfire burning two hours north of San Francisco.

A 6-square-mile blaze was 65 percent contained after destroying at least 300 structures, including 175 homes and eight businesses, in the working-class community of Lower Lake.

More than 1,700 firefighters are battling the blaze that started Saturday and spread to the community’s downtown area and many residential neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, some schools in the Konocti Unified School District will open Monday for the fall after the start date was delayed by the fire. Schools in Lower Lake are still being cleaned.

The cause of the fire has been deemed arson. Damin Pashilk is charged with 14 counts of arson in connection with 12 separate fires dating back to July 2015 and one count of attempted arson.

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6:30 a.m.

Firefighters have gained more ground as they work to surround the huge wildfire east of Los Angeles.

The blaze is 26 percent contained Friday morning, up from 22 percent, and open flame is confined to pockets of the fire, which has scorched more than 50 square miles.

Fire spokesman Brad Pitassi says some of the nearly 1,600 personnel working the blaze will be demobilized Friday afternoon.

Pitassi cautions, however, that there remains potential for explosive fire behavior.

Authorities began lifting some evacuation orders Wednesday but it’s unclear when all areas will be cleared for people to return.

Some 82,000 residents were ordered out of the area after the fire erupted Tuesday morning.

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