Fading winds Sunday allowed crews to bring in more than 40 helicopters and airplanes, including the DC-10, to drop fire retardant on the blaze. Officials credited the jetliner with knocking back the edge of the fire that crept toward Ojai, an artists' enclave popular with tourists.
On Monday, winds were expected to be considerably calmer — down from 40 mph to less than 10 mph, said Dan Bastion of the U.S. Forest Service.
"It will be a good day to get a lot of work done," Bastion said.
Despite the fire's size — it's burned about 134,000 acres since breaking out Labor Day — no homes have been destroyed. No injuries were reported Sunday, and the blaze was about 40 percent contained.
"We are slowly getting a line around the fire," Bastion said. "It's a lot of nibbling, but eventually we'll get the upper hand."
Late Sunday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for Ventura County, clearing the way for assistance from the governor's emergency services office and state funds for rebuilding and recovery.
As winds that had reached 50 mph on Saturday subsided, local residents appeared less anxious as more than 3,000 firefighters and emergency workers blanketed the area.
"If something major happens, it would really be an act of God because this area has just been covered so completely by the fire service," said Mike Gram, 54, who stopped into a grocery store in Ojai.
Earlier Sunday, a large plume of smoke rose from behind a ridge as helicopters lifted off in rapid succession from a staging area in a hayfield east of Ojai, ferrying water and transporting more than 100 hand crews to a remote northeast area to complete part of a three-mile fire line.
Burning along the border of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, the blaze doubled in size when Santa Ana winds kicked up a week ago. A light, moist wind from the south had calmed the fire for several days earlier this week.
The blaze has cost $33 million to fight.
Elsewhere, a fire in the Angeles National Forest in northern Los Angeles County was 80 percent contained after consuming about 100 acres of brush.
The blaze was near a nature center and forced the closure of Placerita Canyon Road, but no evacuations were ordered, authorities said.
Firefighters Sunday had fully contained a 400-acre fire caused by a downed power line that had been burning in mostly mountainous area of Napa County in the northern part of the state.
A six-alarm grass fire in the San Jose foothills was also brought under control Sunday after burning nearly 40 acres and threatening luxury homes.
And in Yolo County, about 12,000 acres burned in a fire that also destroyed three homes, 15 farms, and six cars and killed dozens of livestock before being halted Sunday.
Red flag warnings were lifted across the region as fire-friendly winds slowed.