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Strike teams to Orange County

At 11 a.m., two strike teams from Los Angeles County Fire were awaiting deployment instructions from battalion chiefs scouting the burn area of the Santiago fire.

Capt. Eric Kuck, one of the leaders with the 10 engines lined up and ready to go at the entrance to O'Neill Regional Park, said they expected to be sent to Trabuco Canyon to protect homes. Kuck said some small fires were burning in some inaccessible areas but the winds had died dramatically from earlier in the week.

Even so, they were predicted to pick up again on Sunday or Monday, and there is still plenty of fuel to burn. So the priority was to make sure every lingering hot spot and ember is extinguished, to prevent any more flareups from threatening what has already been saved.

"They're keeping us here to make sure every spark is out," Kruk said.

"This is a fuel-driven fire, not a wind-driven fire. But they say the winds may pick up," he said. "There's still a lot of little islands of fuel. There are hot spots in the burn area we are watching, making sure the houses that were saved don't get lost."

The strike teams, which were working the Malibu fire for several days before arriving in Orange County on Tuesday, are ready to go home, he said.

"We're tired. We're kind of getting burned out," he said. "We've been out for seven straight days.

-- Christine Hanley


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