High winds subside, aid firefighters in

BANNING, Calif. (AP) — Dying winds helped firefighters Tuesday in the battle to control two wildfires that have scorched thousands of acres of brushlands.
“If the winds stay down maybe they can get a handle on it,” said fire spokesman Iral Evans.
Temperatures remained hot and humidity low, but the Santa Ana winds that had rapidly spread the fires were easing in the inland region 90 miles east of Los Angeles.
No serious injuries were reported Tuesday and local evacuations were over. About 1,000 people had been driven from their homes Monday.
The largest blaze, dubbed the Mount Edna fire, was estimated at 23,893 acres. While it was still out of control no structures were threatened. The other fire a few miles to the north in Taylor has charred 4,200 acres
A huge force was assembled against the two blazes burning within miles of each other in northern Riverside County: 2,500 firefighters, 11 air tankers, 13 helicopters.
Both big Riverside County fires began Monday as Santa Anas — northeast winds from the desert interior — roared down through the canyons and passes of the San Bernardino Mountains, which lie to the north of Banning, Beaumont and Calimesa.
Ground crews and water-dropping helicopters successfully defended most homes in the Calimesa area during the Taylor fire’s windblown advance Monday.
Two firefighters died Monday — a pilot who died in the crash of a state-owned fire-retardant bomber and a fire captain who suffered a fatal heart attack.
Capt. Thomas Oscar Wall, 44, of the Orange County Fire Authority suffered a heart attack while hosing roofs in Calimesa. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The California Department of Forestry identified the dead air tanker pilot as Gary Nagel, 62, of Columbia, Calif., a veteran of 30 years in aviation.
The Korean War-vintage Grumman S-2 he was flying went down while fighting the Edna fire. The twin-prop S-2 is a converted Navy patrol plane that carries 800 gallons of fire retardant.