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Some officials say spread of Station fire appears to be slowing [Updated]

August 31, 2009 |  9:48 pm

Cloud  "It's all coming together in the next few days. I see progress," U.S. Forest Service Incident Cmdr. Mike Dietrich said after briefing his troops Monday night.

The feeling was echoed by Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant, who said the fire behaved in a more civilized manner today. 

[Updated, 10:19 p.m.: Officials said they based their assessment that the fire was slowing slightly on the fact that it appeared to move fastest overnight, from 6 a.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Monday. During the day Monday it moved more slowly, they said.]

The last couple of days were "unprecedented," with the fire blazing through 25,000 acres in an eight-hour period, he said.  Fifty-three structures have been destroyed so far, but that number is expected to rise as crews continue to survey damaged areas.

Bryant said he's never seen a fire act this way unless it was whipped by Santa Ana winds.

"We haven't seen something like this in years," Bryant said.

But Monday, the fire slowed a bit. On Sunday night, fire officials said flames would certainly overrun the top of Mt. Wilson. A day later, Bryant said the fire might just go around the peak and its vital communication towers.

"Things are looking pretty good for now," he said.

In the once-threatened community of Briggs Terrace, crews set back-fires using flares from the top of the ridge, gradually working their way down toward the homes. The burnouts neutralized the danger of the wildfire coming down, said Nathan Judy of the U.S. Forest Service.

"Everybody in that neighborhood has nothing to worry about," he said."There's no fuel to burn. We took it away."

Firefighters cut a break between the homes and the burnout nearest them, but the winds were burning up-slope during the operation anyway, Judy said.

Damage assessment teams have confirmed 53 structures that have burned -- both homes and cabins -- mostly in Big Tujunga, Stoneyvale, La Crescenta and Acton. But Bryant said that is only what is confirmed so far, and the number will probably rise.

-- Hector Becerra

Photo: A towering pyrocumulus cloud from the superheated Station fire in Angeles National Forest billows into a blue sky behind downtown Los Angeles on Monday afternoon. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Fire300
Firemap295
Interactive map: The Station fire

Fire grows to more than 122,000 acres; officials hope for improved conditions

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Evacuee who may have lost home awaits word on animals left behind

Mt. Wilson webcam: The 150-Foot Solar Tower

L.A. County Fire Department: The latest

Twitter: Follow @latimescitydesk | @latimesfires

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