S. California wildfire roars to life in wilderness

Published 8:19 am Wednesday, November 14, 2018

MALIBU, Calif. — Southern California’s huge wildfire roared to life again Tuesday in a mountain wilderness area even as many neighborhoods were reopened to thousands of residents who fled its advance last week.

A massive plume rose suddenly at midmorning in the Santa Monica Mountains near the community of Lake Sherwood, prompting authorities to send aircraft to drop retardant and water on the blaze.

Forecasters had warned of continuing fire danger in Southern California due to persistent Santa Ana winds, the withering, dry gusts that sweep out of the interior toward the coast, pushing back moist ocean breezes.

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Except for an apartment building that burned overnight in coastal Malibu, there was little sign of fire activity elsewhere in the vast fire zone west of Los Angeles.

Officials said their most recent assessments indicated that the fire burned 435 buildings as it spread over about 146 square miles (378 square kilometers) and was 35 percent contained, with full containment expected Thursday.

It was unclear how many people remained under evacuation orders, though at one point the number hit about 250,000. Authorities were expected to disclose details later Tuesday at a news conference.

The dry, gusty winds were expected to blow through Wednesday, although not quite as furiously as last week.