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Firefighters plan aerial assault on Leona Valley wildfire; commanders 'optimistic'

July 30, 2010 |  7:40 am

About 4,500 acres have burned since the fire began Thursday. More than 500 firefighters worked through the night to bring the fire to about 5% containment Friday morning, when many evacuees were allowed to return to their homes.

Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Edward Osorio said reduced temperatures and increased humidity overnight “helped to make the progress in containment possible.”

He said more firefighters were expected to arrive Friday, and they planned use air tankers to attack the blaze.

“It means commanders are optimistic about the progress we can make today,” Osorio said at the fire command center, where a huge plume of smoke could be seen billowing into the sky.

Temperatures were expected to reach into the 90s with winds from 15 to 25 mph.

Firefighters also planned to get a better look at the extent of the damage to structures, which were on the north side of Leona Valley, an agricultural area west of Palmdale known for cherries and wine grapes.

Some power poles also were destroyed.

A second blaze, the Briggs fire, burned more than 350 acres south of the 14 Freeway at Indian Canyon Truck Trail and Briggs Road. Firefighters had the blaze under control by late Thursday.

A third fire off Lancaster Road near Gorman burned about 30 acres before it was extinguished.

Inspector Matt Levesque of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said no injuries or fatalities had been reported in any of the fires.

-- Ann Simmons in Leona Valley

Photo: Thick smoke blankets the Antelope Valley early Friday morning as firefighters prepare to battle the brushfire in the hills west of Palmdale from the air. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times 

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