SANTA CLARITA (CNS / FOX 11) - Firefighters have nearly encircled the raging Sand Fire, which has burned nearly 39,000 acres but is 93 percent contained Saturday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Some 1,697 firefighters were working to mop up, put out hot spots and shore up and extend containment lines, according to the USFS. The fire has burned 38,873 acres, destroyed 18 homes and killed a man since it broke out July 22 near Sand Canyon Road along the northbound Antelope Valley (14) Freeway.
Hot and dry conditions were expected to continue for one more day, with highs in the 90s and the relative humidity in the 20s and teens in some areas.
An estimated 20,000 people were evacuated as the fire raged, but most evacuation orders were lifted as of 7 p.m. Monday and the rest were lifted on Friday.
The American Red Cross announced the closure of its evacuation center at Hart High School in Santa Clarita this afternoon, following the closure Friday of one at Highland High School in Palmdale. The Red Cross had operated five shelters at the fire's peak. The group said today that "all remaining shelter residents have been connected with community resources.''
Only residents are allowed back into the areas where evacuations were lifted, so people are asked to show identification.
Only two road closures remain in effect: Sand Canyon Road and Placerita Canyon Road going into Bear Divide, and Little Tujunga Canyon Road north of the Wildlife Waystation. An area, road and trail closure is also in effect for a section of the Angeles National Forest.
Metrolink's Antelope Valley line resumed Friday. Fire conditions adjacent to the railroad tracks in Santa Clarita had prompted the agency to suspend service.
A smoke advisory issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District for parts of the Santa Clarita Valley and San Gabriel Mountains is set to expire at midnight. People in those areas with respiratory problems are advised to stay indoors, and all residents are advised to use caution when going outside and to avoid using swamp coolers or wood-burning appliances.
The blaze has been fueled by triple-digit temperatures along with gusty winds and vegetation left dry by the region's five-year drought. Officials said some areas affected have not burned in decades, leaving terrain covered with dry chaparral.
The deceased victim, whose burned body was found July 23 in a car in the driveway of a house in the 26700 block of Iron Canyon Road, was killed after apparently refusing an order to evacuate.
The coroner's office identified him as Robert Bresnick, 67.
Following an autopsy, the cause of death was listed as the "consequences of extensive thermal burns,'' and the death was classified as an accident, coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter said.
Bresnick was visiting a friend at the location and had been advised by authorities to leave. The friend left, but Bresnick did not, Winter said.
Along with the 18 homes destroyed, the fire also tore through a western town set on the Sable Ranch, a well-known filming location.
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