Relief From Santa Ana Winds Blows in

Relief blew into much of Southern California today as the Santa Ana winds, known as the devil's breath, finally calmed down.

"Mother Nature had control a few days ago. But human resources are now in control," Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said in a press conference.

In Orange County, firefighters took full advantage of the lull in the winds, beating back the Santiago Canyon fire — something that was unthinkable 24 hours ago.

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Navy helicopters are now dropping water on the fires, while the Coast Guard is flying in relief supplies.

Late today, some community officials gave the go ahead for residents to return to their homes.

But there are still challenges — this morning, flames jumped Interstate 5, closing the major corridor between San Diego and Los Angeles for several hours.

Nearby, on the sprawling Camp Pendleton Marine base, 800 residents were evacuated after flames got too close to military housing.

For firefighters, the end of the Santa Ana winds is unquestionably good news. Without the winds, the fires have lost much of their fury.

But nothing about this four-day firestorm has been easy.

Mixing with the diminished Santa Ana winds was a sea breeze, blowing in from the west. These winds can be erratic, as firefighters learned in the community of Jamul, near the Mexican border, where homes burned after the flames danced in all directions, catching exhausted firefighters off guard.

With the fires finally diminishing, the focus has now shifted to how this all started. The Orange County sheriff's department has opened an arson investigation, as authorities believe some of the wildfires were intentionally set.

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