US fires contained, evacuations called off

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Two Californian wildfires which forced 130,000 residents from homes have been largely contained, although smoke is still heavy in surrounding communities.

The last of several mandatory evacuation orders were lifted on Thursday even though voluntary evacuations were still recommended in some areas, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said.

In Lake Forest, where the last of 11,000 evacuees were allowed back into homes, smoke continued to linger, city management services Director Brett Channing said.

"It looks like there's some smoldering in the hills but no flames," Channing said by phone.

The neighbouring city of Irvine, where evacuation orders were lifted on Wednesday, declared its air quality unhealthy downwind from the Silverado fire in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains south of Los Angeles.

The Silverado fire, along with the Blue Ridge fire that prompted evacuation orders in nearby Yorba Linda, were the latest eruptions in a record fire season for the state.

Wildfires have scorched more than 16,500 square km of California real estate since the start of the year.

The death toll grew to 32 after authorities said on Wednesday a 54-year-old man died on October 21 six weeks after suffering burns in a fire north of Sacramento.

More than 1200 firefighters took advantage of diminished winds to widen their containment of the Silverado fire overnight to 40 per cent from 25 per cent, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The fire's charred area was little changed at 5419 hectares, it said.

No structures were damaged by the Silverado fire but two firefighters suffered second- and third-degree burns on Monday.

They remained in critical condition on Thursday.

"They're still in a serious fight for their lives," Orange County Fire Authority Chief BrianFennessy said.

Southern California Edison said earlier this week its equipment may have started the blaze.

At the Blue Ridge fire near Yorba Linda, 1051 firefighters nearly doubled their containment lines overnight to 30 per cent of the blaze, which remained at 5801 hectares.

Across the state, more than 5600 crew were battling 22 wildfires on Thursday and had contained 29 new ones that sprang up.