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Firefighters gain ground against Southern California wildfire

By Dana Ford, CNN
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Tue June 4, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Other fires burn in New Mexico and Colorado
  • NEW: Residents of two communities are allowed to return home
  • NEW: The Powerhouse Fire is about 60% contained
  • It has destroyed some six homes and threatened up to 1,000

(CNN) -- Helped by higher humidity, firefighters battled back a wind-whipped wildfire in Southern California, clearing the way for many evacuated residents to return home.

The Powerhouse Fire is burning in the Palmdale area north of Los Angeles. It has destroyed some six homes, threatened as many as 1,000, and grew to more than 32,000 acres as of late Monday, according to Lisa Lugo with the Angeles National Forest.

Three people have been injured since the fire started last week, though it was not immediately clear how.

"So far things look much better than they did yesterday," incident commander Norm Walker told reporters.

"Last night, we increased the containment to 40%. We hope to bump that up considerably again tonight if conditions remain the same."

A helicopter drops fire retardant on a flareup of the Powerhouse Fire near Lake Hughes, California, on Monday, June 3. More than 2,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, which started on May 30 and has spread to more than 30,000 acres about 70 miles north of Los Angeles. A helicopter drops fire retardant on a flareup of the Powerhouse Fire near Lake Hughes, California, on Monday, June 3. More than 2,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, which started on May 30 and has spread to more than 30,000 acres about 70 miles north of Los Angeles.
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Later, Lugo said that containment stood at 60%.

Residents who evacuated from the communities of Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth were allowed to return home.

However, the community of Antelope Acres remained under a mandatory evacuation order.

A shelter has opened for those with nowhere else to go.

Helicopters helped firefighters by dropping retardant and water along the perimeter of the blaze.

"We want to take advantage of the high humidity, get in there and do a direct attack and do all we can to get some of these hot spots put out so it doesn't spread anymore," Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mike McCormick told CNN affiliate KABC.

Elsewhere in the West, a small fire burned in Jefferson County, Colorado, prompting evacuations, according to the Sheriff's Office there. No structures were lost.

Another fire, north of Pecos, New Mexico, has scorched about 8,000 acres and forced the evacuation of about 100 summer homes, said Denise Ottaviano of New Mexico Fire Information.

That fire, known as the Tres Lagunas Fire, is 5% contained. Officials believe it was ignited by a downed power line.

CNN's Diahann Reyes contributed to this report.

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