The Latest: California wildfires harming air quality


LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning in the West (all times local):

11:45 a.m.

Southern California air pollution regulators have issued a smoke advisory due to two wildfires burning in the San Gabriel Mountains 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District said the smoke is moving eastward Tuesday toward the inland region.

Areas of unhealthy air quality are likely to range from the San Gabriel Valley into San Bernardino and Riverside counties

Mountains and deserts remain extremely hot but the National Weather Service says the heat wave that has fried Southern California with extraordinary temperatures is moderating, especially toward the coast.

At midmorning Tuesday, the temperature in downtown Los Angeles was 16 degrees lower than at the same time 24 hours earlier, when it was nearing 100.

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11:20 a.m.

Authorities say record-breaking weather caused a wildfire in eastern Arizona to grow by nearly 22 square miles in one day.

Officials expect the fire to grow a few more square miles Tuesday.

Extreme heat and low humidity Monday made the terrain more ignitable than usual, bringing the fire’s size to about 56 square miles. The fire is 20 percent contained.

Fire spokeswoman Katy Gray says residents are still under pre-evacuation notice. The fire is about 2 ½ miles north of the sparsely-populated community of Cedar Creek.

Increased humidity and cooler temperatures Tuesday could help firefighting efforts, but will also bring more erratic winds and evening thunderstorms.

The blaze began June 15, and its cause is under investigation.

10 a.m.

Hundreds of firefighters have cleared the way for some evacuees to return to their homes in central New Mexico.

Authorities in Bernalillo and Torrance counties lifted evacuation orders in some areas Tuesday after crews contained nearly half of a wildfire that has destroyed two dozen homes.

National Guard and law enforcement officers are stationed along main roads to check IDs as people return. Gov. Susana Martinez planned to be among those working the checkpoints.

The governor is urging federal authorities to assess damage so preparations can be made before monsoon season brings possible flooding problems.

The human-caused fire was reported June 14. It raced across 28 square miles of tinder-dry forest in the Manzano Mountains south of Albuquerque until more favorable weather helped to slow its growth.

In northern New Mexico, crews contained a fire that had threatened popular recreation spots in the Jemez Mountains.

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7:35 a.m.

Firefighters hope to begin building containment lines around two wildfires in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy says the fires a few miles apart above foothill suburbs have together burned nearly 8½ square miles as of Tuesday morning but no homes have been lost.

The heat wave that has seared Southern California since last weekend will not be as extreme as it was on Monday, but firefighters will be facing near-triple-digit temperatures and single-digit humidity.

West of Santa Barbara, firefighters have increased containment of a nearly 12½-square-mile blaze to 70 percent a week after it started.

Weather is expected to remain favorable for several days and mandatory evacuation orders will start to be reduced Wednesday.

East of San Diego, a wildfire burning near the desert town of Potrero is holding at just under 12 square miles although it remains only 5 percent contained.

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