SANTA CLARITA ( — Rising humidity is helping firefighters get a handle on the deadly Sand Fire in the Santa Clarita area.

About 3,000 firefighters were on the lines working to knock down the blaze, which began Friday afternoon near Sand Canyon Road in Santa Clarita, along the northbound Antelope Valley (14) Freeway.

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National Weather Service data showed humidity in the Acton area was 30 to 35 percent overnight, which could benefit firefighters.

As of Wednesday, the fire has scorched 38,346 acres and was 40 percent contained fire officials said. The fire has so far destroyed 18 homes and a Western town set on the Sable Ranch, a well-known filming location.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the flames, and one man was killed when he reportedly refused order to evacuate.

The coroner’s office on Tuesday identified the man whose burned body was found in a car in the driveway of a house in the burn area — and who apparently refused orders to evacuate. The body of Robert Bresnick, 67, was discovered at 7:20 p.m. Saturday in the 26700 block of Iron Canyon Road, said coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter.

“Evidently, he did not want to evacuate,” Winter said. An autopsy was pending to determine the cause of the man’s death, which was being classified as an accident.

Winter said Bresnick, whose home town was not known, was visiting a friend at the location, and had been advised by authorities to leave. The friend left, but Bresnick did not, Winter said.

Three firefighters lost their homes in the fire. Two of them were initially battling the Sand Fire, and one lost his home while he was in San Diego County battling a blaze at Camp Pendleton.

Although an estimated 20,000 people were evacuated as the fire raged, most evacuation orders were lifted at 7 p.m. Monday. The orders remain in effect for residents of Little Tujunga Road from the Wildlife Waystation to Sand Canyon Road and Placerita Canyon Road, according to authorities.

Only residents are allowed back into the areas where evacuations were lifted, so people are asked to show identification.

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The Board of Supervisors ratified a local emergency declaration that was issued by the county on Monday. The declaration is the first step in acquiring state funding to help fire-recovery efforts. Hours after the board’s vote on Tuesday, acting Gov. Tom Torlakson officially declared a state of emergency to free up state resources.

Torlakson, the state superintendent of public instruction, is acting governor while Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials are attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The blaze has been fueled by triple-digit temperatures along with gusty winds and vegetation left dry thanks to the region’s five-year drought. Officials said some areas affected have not burned in decades, leaving terrain covered with dry chaparral that pushed the fire forward like a freight train.

The Escondido and Soledad Canyon Road exits of the northbound Antelope Valley Freeway remained closed.

Sand Canyon Road was closed south of Placerita Canyon Road. Agua Dulce Canyon Road was closed to all nonresidents at the 14 Freeway, and closed to everyone at Soledad Canyon Road. Little Tujunga Canyon Road was closed north of the Wildlife Waystation. In Acton, Soledad Canyon Road was closed at Bootlegger Road.

The public can follow the latest announcements about the fire online at

Metrolink announced there would be no service at least one more day to and from the Vincent Grade/Acton, Palmdale or Lancaster stations. Train service was operating between Via Princessa and downtown Los Angeles only, Metrolink officials said. There will be no bus bridges between the Palmdale and Lancaster stations.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended a smoke advisory until midnight Wednesday for portions of the Santa Clarita Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains. Air quality could reach unhealthy levels, or higher, in areas directly impacted by smoke, the agency said. Residents in those areas are advised to stay indoors, and to avoid using swamp coolers or wood-burning appliances.

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