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Milder weather eases fight against California wildfires

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Milder weather eases fight against California wildfires

An aircraft drops fire retardant on a wildfire in Filmore, California
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REUTERS/Gene Blevins
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Milder weather on the US west coast is helping to ease the fight against wildfires in southern California.

More helicopters and air tankers have been able to drop water and fire retardant as well as carry out reconnaissance missions.

But the fast-moving blazes are continuing to wreak havoc, leaving a trail of damage and destruction from San Diego up to Santa Barbara County.

Around 9,000 firefighters are battling the blazes which have killed at least one person and left ten others hurt.

At the peak, nearly a quarter of a million people were forced to flee their homes.

Although evacuation orders have been lifted in some areas, there remains an anxious wait for many in shelters to see if their homes survived.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday issued a federal emergency declaration for California, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts.

California\'s wildfire in stats

North of San Diego, the Lilac Fire swelled from 10 acres to 4,100 acres (1,659 hectares) in a few hours on Thursday, prompting Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for San Diego County. The fire destroyed 65 structures.

Fallbrook, known for its avocado orchards, burned, and homes were destroyed in its Rancho Monserate Country Club retirement community. Blazes approached the Camp Pendleton marine base.

A 500-stall stable for thoroughbred race horses at San Luis Rey Downs training site burned late on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The largest of the blazes, known as the Thomas Fire, was in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles, and has charred 143,000 acres (57,870 hectares) and destroyed 439 structures, officials said. More than 2,600 firefighters from as far away as Portland, Oregon, and Nevada, made progress against the blaze with 10 percent contained, up from 5 percent on Thursday.