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Firefight switches to mop-up mode

Tab reaches $7.9 million

Posted: October 16, 2008 9:11 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Firefighters neared full containment Thursday of the smoldering remnants of deadly Southern California wildfires that destroyed more than 50 homes and forced thousands of residents to flee.

The Sesnon Fire was 70 percent contained after blackening more than 22 square miles and swallowing 15 homes, said Inspector Sam Padilla of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The fire, which crowned the Santa Susana Mountains and was visible from the Santa Clarita Valley, cost $7.9 million to fight.

It was touched off Monday by downed power lines. Early reports that the lines belonged to Southern California Edison were incorrect, fire officials said Thursday.

The power lines belonged to a private company, which was not identified.

Changing weather conditions helped firefighters battle the Sesnon blaze, Padilla said.

“This was a wind-driven fire. Without the wind, we can get a line around it,” he said.

The Marek Fire, which ignited Sunday morning, was 92 percent contained Thursday after burning 4,824 acres, Padilla said.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health warned Santa Clarita Valley residents to take precautions when outdoors in areas where there may be visible smoke or an odor of smoke, according to a statement released Thursday.

Smoke, soot and ash from the Sesnon and Marek fires contributed to poor air quality.

“In all areas of visible smoke or where there is an odor of smoke, all individuals are urged to be cautious and to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, director of public health for the county.

“We are also advising schools that are in session in smoke-impacted areas to suspend outside physical activities in these areas, including physical education and after-school sports, until conditions improve,” he said.


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