Returning winds have Southern California firefighters wary

With Santa Ana winds returning and hundreds of homes in ashes, firefighters were struggling to corral a devastating Southern California wildfire that has ravaged scenic canyons and celebrity enclaves near the ocean.

Fire officials say crews taking advantage of a weekend lull in the winds had the immense Woolsey blaze about 30 percent contained. But at least 435 buildings had burned — most of them homes — and the hot embers smoldering there could become the sparks for more devastation.

The fire, which stretches from north of Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean, was only 30 percent contained — although that was significant progress from only a few days earlier thanks to a weekend lull in Santa Ana winds.

Fire crews had to stamp out two new blazes yesterday while still working to corral the hot western and eastern sides of the fire, which had burned its way through drought-stricken canyon lands in and around Malibu, burning celebrity houses along with modest mobile homes.

Dawn Kamber