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Sep 29, 8:36 PM EDT

Cooler weather helps in California blaze fight

AP Photo
AP Photo/Noah Berger

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (AP) -- Cooler weather and additional firefighters had fire officials hopeful Thursday that a wildfire threatening hundreds of structures in a remote area of California's Santa Cruz Mountains would be contained in days.

Full containment was expected by Monday, though wind gusts of up to 35 mph forecast for Friday night could complicate the firefight, state fire Capt. Mike Perez said. The fire has burned 6 square miles and was threatening 325 structures, though it was not clear how many were homes or smaller structures. It was 22 percent contained as of Thursday morning.

Mandatory evacuations were lifted Wednesday for Santa Cruz County. But evacuation orders remained in effect for neighboring Santa Clara County, where most of the 300 threatened structures are located, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The blaze broke out Monday during a statewide heat wave that brought witheringly low humidity and temperatures in the upper 90s. A 10-degree drop in temperatures and increased humidity helped fire crews. The cooling trend was expected to last through the week.

It was among several blazes burning during a time of year when the drought-stricken state sees its largest and most damaging wildfires, state forestry officials said.

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