Firefighters gaining upper hand on Hill Fire

Fire has already scorched 1,600 acres

Firefighters fight for control of the...

SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. - As the Hill Fire hit the 24-hour mark since it began Monday afternoon, CAL FIRE officials are reporting containment at 60 percent.

As the sun rose Tuesday morning, the sky above the burn area looked dramatically different than it did hours earlier when smoke filled the sky and could be seen for miles away.

"Last night we got a break," said CAL Fire public information officer Chris Elms. "As soon as sun went down the temperatures dropped and the humidity went up, which definitely helped us a lot."

According to Elms, there are 1,200 firefighters from around California working the fire that has burned about 1,600 acres.

"We threw everything we had at it last night and got a lot of resources in here very quickly and went to work," said Elms. "So we've been able to gain some good ground on this thing and we did that this morning too."

As fire crews gain the upper hand on the blaze, they're encountering difficult work conditions in the Park Hill area, which is just east of Santa Margarita.

"We've been dealing with steep terrain, high fuel loads of vegetation, lots of vegetation, definitely the heat and low humidity," said Elms.
Many residents remained with their homes during the initial fire fight, including Cindy Silva, who has lived in the area for about seven years.

On Tuesday, Silva, like many of the residents, credited all of the supporting fire agencies for their efforts to save homes and property.

"(The fire) was intimidating," said Silva. "It was very intimidating and we were really amazed and pleased that the firefighters were all out here and responding so quickly and doing the best they can to knock stuff out. The aerial support and the ground support was awesome."

Evacuation order, which have been in effect since the fire broke out, will be lifted at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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