Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

A firefighter from Santa Fe Springs talks on the radio while he battles to control hot spots of the Maria Fire in Santa Paula in California's Ventura County, on Nov. 2, 2019.APU GOMES/AFP/Getty Images

Authorities lifted all evacuation orders as firefighters made progress on Sunday on a large blaze that sent thousands fleeing homes and farms northwest of Los Angeles.

Crews working in steep terrain were tamping down hot spots and keeping an eye on lingering gusts in mountain areas that could carry embers, Ventura County Fire Department Captain Steve Kaufmann said.

“I’d say we’re cautiously optimistic,” Capt. Kaufmann said, citing calmer winds over all and rising humidity levels.

Firefighters have contained 50 per cent of the blaze, which has burned nearly 39 square kilometres of dry brush and timber. Three buildings were destroyed.

More than 11,000 people evacuated after the flames spread on Oct. 31 during dry winds that fanned fires across California this fall.

In his first recent comments on the California fires, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to cut federal aid funding to the state.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has done a “terrible job of forest management,” Mr. Trump tweeted. When fires rage, the Governor comes to the federal government for help. “No more,” the President continued.

Mr. Newsom replied with a tweet of his own: “You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.”

California has increased fire-prevention investments and fuel-management projects in recent years while federal funding has shrunk, the Governor’s office said in a statement.

“We’re successfully waging war against thousands of fires started across the state in the last few weeks due to extreme weather created by climate change while Trump is conducting a full on assault against the antidotes,” Mr. Newsom said.

The state controls just 3 per cent of forest land in California, while the federal government owns 57 per cent, according to numbers provided by Mr. Newsom’s office. About 40 per cent of the state’s forests are privately owned. Neither of the two major fires currently burning are on forest land.

Last year, Mr. Trump made a similar threat as wildfires devastated Malibu and Paradise, Calif. – accusing the state of “gross mismanagement” of forests.

At the time, Mr. Newsom defended California’s wildfire-prevention efforts while criticizing the federal government for not doing enough to help protect the state.

In Northern California, more people returned to areas evacuated from a huge fire that burned for days in the Sonoma County wine country.

The 313-square-kilometre fire was 76-per-cent contained on Sunday, California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The tally of destroyed homes reached 175 and there were 35 more damaged, authorities said. Many other structures also burned.

The causes of both fires were under investigation, but there was a possibility that electrical lines might have been involved – as was the case in other recent fires.

Electricity-supply company Southern California Edison said on Friday that it had re-energized a 16,000-volt power line 13 minutes before the fire erupted in the same area of Ventura County.

Edison and other utilities around the state shut off power to hundreds of thousands of people last week out of concerns that high winds could cause power lines to spark and start fires.

The utility will co-operate with investigators, it said.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe