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32K-Acre Powerhouse Fire 60 Percent Contained As Weather Conditions Improve

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ANTELOPE VALLEY (CBS/AP) — The estimated 32,000-acre Powerhouse Fire was 60 percent contained as of Monday afternoon, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The fire, which has burned 46 square miles, has destroyed five or six structures and damaged 15, according to authorities.

Cool air and weaker winds Monday improved conditions for firefighters as they sought to prevent the fire from jumping Lake Hughes Road, which caused damage to structures Sunday.

Some of the estimated 1,000 people evacuated in the Lake Hughes area will return to homes without power, as crews work to restore damaged power lines.

“What a difference a day makes,” said Cmdr. David Richardson of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Resources are still assigned to provide structure defense, he said.

Antelope Acres remained under mandatory evacuation Monday. Officials lifted the evacuation orders for Elizabeth Lake and Lake Hughes Monday afternoon, though only residents will be permitted to return to those areas.

A Red Cross evacuation center, which has been flooded with donations of food, water and supplies, was established at Marie Kerr Park, 39700 30th Street West, in Palmdale. An estimated 140 people continued to receive services there Monday.

The 32,000-acre fire began Thursday and was fanned by triple-digit temperatures and strong winds that helped push the fire across the California Aqueduct and into the Antelope Valley over the weekend.

“Because of the fuels drying, we are experiencing July, August fuels here in the beginning of June,” Cmdr. Richardson said.

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“There’s some unburned fuel in that area that we want to make sure we don’t allow residents back in their until it’s safe to do so,” Nathan Judy from the U.S. Forest Service said.

Another 1,000 people and 250 homes could be evacuated in the community of Green Valley if the fire moves closer, authorities said.

“It was bad. Big flames, a lot of ash, smoke,” resident Ed Yost said.

More than 2,200 firefighters and 19 aircraft were battling the blaze. Approximately 100 sheriff’s deputies remained on duty to support the fire efforts and secure the area.

A shelter for small animals was established at the L.A. County Department of Animal Care & Control, 5210 West Avenue I in Lancaster, and the Castaic Animal Shelter, located at 31044 N. Charlie Canyon Road.

Lancaster and Antelope Valley fairgrounds were used to house animals such as horses, donkeys, goats and exotic birds.

Three minor injuries have been reported since the fire began.

Containment is not expected until June 10.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Monday that up to 75 percent of eligible firefighting costs will be reimbursed to the state by the federal government.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

PHOTOS: Powerhouse Fire

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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