Rain eases Southern California wildfires

·1-min read

A tropical storm off the US Pacific Coast has brought cooler temperatures and much needed rain to Southern California, ending a scorching heat wave and easing fears that a massive wildfire could threaten more residents.

Officials had warned that high winds from the remnants of Tropical Storm Kay could fan the flames of the Fairview Fire, which as of Friday had consumed about 11,000 hectares in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, and was only five per cent contained.

Heavy rain from the storm, meanwhile, raised the possibility of flash flooding and mudslides.

But steady rain helped firefighters make significant progress overnight. As of Saturday, the fire was 40 per cent contained and there were no reports of flash flooding or debris flows.

Thousands of residents have been ordered to leave their homes, though some people who live west and northwest of the fire have been allowed to return since Friday. Two people have died as a result of the fire.

The Mosquito Fire east of the state capital of Sacramento continued expanding overnight, however. As of Saturday morning, the blaze had burned through more than 13,000 hectares and was zero per cent contained.

Highs in southern California were mostly expected to stay under 32C, according to forecasters, after days of oppressive heat across much of the state.

Temperatures hit a record 38C at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, the National Weather Service said.

Officials had considered implementing rolling electricity outages earlier in the week, when power demand hit an all-time high.