2,000-acre fire nearly contained in Calif. valley | SierraSun.com

2,000-acre fire nearly contained in Calif. valley

INDEPENDENCE, Calif. (AP) ” Cooler weather helped firefighters make gains Friday on a roughly 2,000-acre wildfire in a remote area of the Owens Valley.

The fire erupted Thursday in brush and heavy grassland and was fanned by southwest winds as a Pacific storm moved into the state. The sparsely populated region is about 185 miles north of Los Angeles.

The rain didn’t reach the valley, but the system brought higher humidity, lower temperatures and calmer wind. The blaze was 70 percent contained Friday morning and full containment was expected later in the day, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

The blaze comes at a time of year when wildfires usually are rare, as winter brings increased rain and snow to California. But droughtlike conditions have withered the state for three years.

“California is dry and we have to be extra careful,” Berlant said.

Before the arrival of Thursday’s storm, downtown Los Angeles had recorded only 7.77 inches of rain since July 1, more than 21/2 inches below normal. And January was the third warmest in Los Angeles since official records began in July 1877.

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