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California fires keep hundreds away from homes

A C-130 air tanker drops a flame-retardant slurry Monday on the hills above Sylmar, California.
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Homes are evacuated due to California wildfires.
National Interagency Fire Center

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Slower winds, lower temperatures and higher humidity brightened Tuesday's outlook for firefighters battling a nearly 6,000-acre wildfire in Los Angeles County, where residents were being kept away from about 350 homes.

Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Ron Haralson said the Sand Canyon area was open to residents, but mandatory evacuations remained in place for nearby Placerita Canyon.

Residents of the Fair Oaks community were allowed back home Monday.

"It looks like things are getting better," Haralson said. "Especially through the night, with temperatures going down -- that helps us out -- and the winds dropping, humidity up."

Haralson said firefighters had kept the 5,984-acre Foothills fire from damaging or destroying any structures, containing about 45 percent of it. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries, he said.

More than 2,000 firefighters have been battling the blaze.

On Monday, Jim Dellamonica, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the fire was sparked when a red-tailed hawk hit power lines, caught fire, fell to the ground and set plants on fire.

The fire was one of several California blazes that have scorched thousands of acres and forced hundreds of people to leave their homes.

About 50 miles north of Los Angeles, firefighters had 90 percent of the larger Pine fire contained by Monday evening. That fire, which has scorched more than 17,000 acres, has destroyed three homes and 21 outbuildings.

In Riverside County, southeast of Los Angeles, the 3,667-acre Melton fire was 95 percent contained, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Alaska was dealing with a nearly half-million acre wildfire Tuesday as about 830 firefighters tried to hold back the Boundary fire, 20 miles (32 kilometers) from downtown Fairbanks. Thunderstorms increased fire activity Monday, the National Interagency Fire Center said, while winds pushed the fire toward northeastern suburbs.

Officials evacuated the Haystack suburb of Fairbanks, and the blaze threatened power lines. So far, the fire has consumed one home, a business and 12 other structures, and 12 firefighters have suffered minor injuries.

A June 13 lightning strike launched the fire.

CNN's Miguel Marquez contributed to this report.

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