Southern California fire scorches 29,000 acres

(CNN) — Firefighters made “major progress” Monday toward containing a wind-whipped wildfire in Southern California, offering hope to residents evacuated from hundreds of homes over the weekend.

Winds slowed down and the humidity rose early in the day, helping crews get a better grip on the Powerhouse Fire, which is burning in the Palmdale area north of Los Angeles. It grew to some 29,000 acres Monday, but it was about 40% contained, according to officials. It has destroyed six homes and threatened as many as 1,000.

“We still have this wind component that’s just very aggressive, and that’s the most dangerous part for us firefighters — the wind and how shifty it’s been,” Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mike McCormick told CNN affiliate KABC. “We want to take advantage of the high humidity, get in there and do a direct attack and do all we can to get some of these hot spots put out so it doesn’t spread anymore.”

Firefighters are cautiously optimistic that the fire is not going to continue to spread if weather conditions continue to hold, Los Angeles County Fire spokesman Tony Atkins told CNN.

There are tentative plans to allow homeowners back into the Lake Hughes community later Monday, Atkins said. The community lost six homes and was under a mandatory evacuation order.

Some 2,800 people were affected, said Lt. Dave Coleman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

A shelter opened for those with nowhere else to go.

Helicopters are helping firefighters by dropping retardant and water along the perimeter of the blaze.

Elsewhere in the West, a fire north of Pecos, New Mexico, has scorched about 8,000 acres and forced the evacuation of about 100 summer homes, said Denise Ottaviano of New Mexico Fire Information.

That fire, known as the Tres Lagunas Fire, is 5% contained. Officials believe it was ignited by a downed power line.

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