The story

Conditions that created what California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dubbed "the perfect storm for fire" eased Wednesday, helping firefighters gain ground against devastating Southern California wildfires.

Winds that gusted as much as 101 mph on Sunday dropped to about 30 mph Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, the dry Santa Ana winds that have fanned the flames, changed direction and began blowing inland from the Pacific Ocean, increasing the humidity and easing the burden on almost 8,900 firefighters in the area.

But the destruction was taking its toll on the men and women on the front lines of the fires.

"It hurts us to have those homes lost. It hurts us to have those injuries. And it is frustrating for us to watch our community be devastated by this," said firefighter Andy Menshek. Read full article »

CNN's Kate Bolduan contributed to this report.

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