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Wildfire North Of Los Angeles Is 40 Percent Contained Monday

Sparks fly from a burning hollowed tree in the area of the Powerhouse fire near Lake Hughes, Calif., Sunday.
David McNew
Getty Images
Sparks fly from a burning hollowed tree in the area of the Powerhouse fire near Lake Hughes, Calif., Sunday.

Firefighters were able to double containment of the huge Powerhouse wildfire north of Los Angeles to 40 percent Monday, as cooler weather helped them against the blaze that has scorched more than 45 square miles. No deaths have been reported as a result of the fire, which caused some 1,000 homes to be evacuated.

Update at 9 p.m. ET. Some Evacuations Lifted; Name Explained:

"The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has lifted evacuation orders for some communities affected by the Powerhouse Fire near Santa Clarita," reports member station KPCC. "Folks who live in the Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth neighborhoods can return home. Antelope Acres remains under evacuation."

The fire's name has led to questions about its origin, on our story and elsewhere. The fire is named for where it first started Thursday, "near a hydroelectric plant located close to the L.A. Aqueduct and known as Powerhouse No. 1," as ABC 10 News reports.

Our original post continues:

"Things are looking better," the U.S. Forest Service's Matt Corelli tells NBC 4 Los Angeles. "Last night was our best opportunity to make some headway on the fire. A cool mass of air came in that gave us an upper hand. The fuel the fire is burning into now is a lot less dense than it was up on the hill."

Officials now say they might have total control of the fire within seven days, a stark turnaround from a weekend that brought hot and windy weather that helped it spread quickly in areas that supplied plenty of fuel, in the form of dry chaparral brush plants — some of which hadn't been burned in decades, KPCC reports.

"The cause of the fire was under investigation," KPCC says. "Three firefighters had minor injuries, but no one else was hurt."

Campgrounds and rural communities remain under evacuation orders Monday, with the Red Cross setting up an aid center in Palmdale, Calif., NBC 4 reports. More than 2,000 firefighters have reportedly been involved in efforts to counter the blaze.

In addition to the evacuation orders, residents are coping with a lack of information about damage from the fire, reports KPCC's Mary Plummer. At a convenience store, the cashier told Plummer on Monday that she'd been told the shop burned to the ground Sunday.

As of Monday, the fire had been blamed for destroying at least six houses and damaging 15 more, KPCC reports.

"People are just frustrated because they can't get to their homes, and there are several people that have livestock in the area that they want to feed," California Highway Patrol Officer Peter Bishop tells Plummer. "I'm a homeowner myself, and if I wasn't allowed to enter my house at all for a period of time and not know the state of my house for a period of time, it's a very stressful situation."

Fire crews are also busy in New Mexico, where the Tres Lagunas fire has grown to nearly 8,000 acres, according to KRQE TV. That fire is only 5 percent contained, officials say.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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