Southern California Wildfire 73% Contained, Firefighters Transition to 'Mop-Up Phase'
Most evacuation orders have been lifted, officials said.
— -- Firefighters battling the Blue Cut wildfire 60 miles east of Los Angeles in San Bernardino County continue to make significant progress containing the blaze: It was 73 percent contained, with firefighters finally transitioning to the "mop-up phase," officials announced Saturday night.
Most evacuation orders were lifted Friday, when firefighters made huge gains against the Blue Cut blaze, but some orders remain in place. "Things are extremely positive," said Brad Pitassi, a spokesman for the multi-agency fire command, adding that officials expects more residents to return home Sunday.
At the height of the fire, some 82,000 people were under evacuation orders.
The 58-square-mile wildfire has so far left behind a devastating trail: At least 105 residences and 213 other buildings have been destroyed in the fire, which began last Tuesday morning. San Bernardino County Fire Department marshal Mike Horton said those figures may increase as damage assessment teams continue to tour the area.
Horton -- who operates from a mobile command center just south of the blaze -- leads a team of 15 investigators, technicians, hazardous materials experts and others responsible for determining the extent and nature of the damage.
"We come in right on the heels of the fire," he told The AP. "Once it's cool enough, we go parcel-by-parcel."
Before residents return home, they may view damage assessment reports available online, via phone recordings and on postings at evacuation centers. Maps are color-coded with red areas signifying "complete damage," orange describing damage between 40 and 75 percent, yellow showing damage of less than 40 percent and green meaning no damage.
"Green, you're in good shape," Horton said. "Any other color and you should be concerned."