LA fire forces thousands from homes

By AAP Newswire

US Firefighters are hoping to take advantage of favourable weather conditions to get the upper hand on a sprawling blaze that has torched the hills of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, burning more than 3000 hectares, shutting down freeways and driving thousands of residents from their homes.

Slightly cooler temperatures and lighter winds turning onshore later on Saturday were expected to help firefighters in their third day battling the fire, which extends from Porter Ranch to Sylmar, officials said. As of Saturday morning, the fire was 19 per cent contained.

Red-flag warnings remain in effect, but Santa Ana winds are expected to weaken throughout the day and be replaced by an onshore sea breeze later in the day, officials said. Humidity levels ranged from 20 per cent down to five per cent within the fire zone.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, officials said. But investigators are checking on a report that flames were seen coming from a power line as the fire started on Thursday night.

Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for roughly 23,000 homes north of the 118 Freeway from Tampa Avenue west to the Ventura County line. But some residents began returning to their homes on Friday night.