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'Outstanding' weather aids firefighters

Orange County:

Firefighters made steady progress today battling the Santiago fire, but the 27,521-acre blaze is still threatening homes, and Orange County's rustic canyon communities remain under mandatory evacuation.

"The weather today has been outstanding," said Dennis Cross, a spokesman for the Orange County Fire Authority. "High humidity and very little wind is allowing aircraft to really target and hit a lot of hot spots. Structure protection is in place, and we're getting a lot of line constructed."

Nearly 2,000 firefighters are battling the fire, and they were supported in the air by four planes and 16 helicopters.

Assessment teams visiting remote burned areas discovered two more destroyed homes, bringing the fire's toll to at least 16.

A $285,000 reward is being offered to anyone offering information that leads to a conviction.

-- Seema Mehta

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