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Lull in hot weather helps crews at Western blazes

SAN FRANCISCO — Firefighters in the West were taking advantage of improving weather conditions on Friday to make strides against stubborn wildfires that have destroyed homes, forced evacuations and scorched hundreds of thousands of acres of timber and brush.

In Redding, Calif., a growing blaze was threatening dozens of homes amid tinder-dry conditions. It erupted into a 2-square-mile fire less than a day after it was spotted.

"Even though there are no extreme winds and temperatures, this fire really burned because of how dry the conditions are," said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

In Colorado, crews expected to have the state's most destructive wildfire fully contained by day's end. Colorado Springs officials lifted evacuation orders for 126 more homes at a 28-square-mile fire which started last month. It has damaged or destroyed nearly 350 homes and killed two people.

Coroner's officials identified the victims as 74-year-old William Everett and his wife, Barbara, 73. Dispatch recordings show the fire appeared to have started near a hiking trail west of Colorado Springs, the Denver Post reported, though the cause remained under investigation.

In Wyoming and Montana, damp conditions and shifting winds helped thousands of firefighters at separate blazes.

In Utah, rain and cooler temperatures helped crews hold lines on a blaze that has burned nearly 13 square miles about 30 miles southeast of Cedar City.

Lull in hot weather helps crews at Western blazes 07/06/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 6, 2012 10:28pm]
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