Wildfires Evict Over 1,000 Californians From Homes

APA firefighting helicopter making a drop Sunday on a slope in Sierra Madre.
SIERRA MADRE, California -- Firefighters have gained ground on a 162-hectare wildfire they have been battling all weekend near Los Angeles, though darkness prevented their using aircraft overnight.

The early season wildfire has forced the evacuation of at least 1,000 people from their homes in the foothills. But authorities said no homes had burned.

"The hand crews are still making progress against the flanks of the fire," Cliff Johnson, fire information officer for the Angeles National Forest, said early Monday. "[But] no aircraft are being used in the darkness."

About 500 firefighters attacked the blaze, aided during the daytime by two helicopters and water-dropping air tankers, city of Sierra Madre spokeswoman Elisa Weaver said.

"This is pretty serious," Weaver said. "Some of these areas have not burned in over 40 years."

The firefighting aircraft will return on Monday morning, likely along with more ground crews, Johnson said.

By Sunday evening crews had the fire 30 percent contained, and hoped to have the blaze fully contained within four to seven days, Sierra Madre spokesman James Carlson said. Light winds and rising humidity were aiding firefighters, he said.

Authorities will decide when to allow evacuated residents to return home depending on "fire activity, weather conditions and the progress" made overnight, Johnson said.

On Sunday, helicopters made water drops on a steep ridge above Sierra Madre near Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park, about 24 kilometers northeast of Los Angeles and just east of Pasadena. A fixed-wing water tanker also dropped flame retardant