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Wildfires Scorch 7,000 Acres

Raging wildfires in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties that have scorched more than 7,000 acres were nearing containment Wednesday as calmer winds and cooler temperatures helped firefighters.

The larger of the two fires, about 4,000 acres, is burning in the Ventura County community of Fillmore. Firefighters said the blaze was 50 percent contained Tuesday, with full containment expected by Thursday. No structural damage or injuries were reported. Some residents near the blaze were evacuated briefly Monday.

Meanwhile, 1,000 firefighters continue to battle a fire that has destroyed more than 2,300 acres of the steep, rocky terrain of the Los Padres National Forest.

The blaze began Friday afternoon when a tractor that was pulling a mower to reduce the fire hazard in the forest hit a rock, causing a spark, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Rich Tobin said.

The terrain is steep and packed with thick vegetation that hasn't burned since the turn of the century. It is accessible only by foot or on horseback, and many firefighters had to be ferried in by helicopters. Winds up to 12 miles per hour pushed the fire into even more remote areas.

The fire was threatening the habitats of the threatened red-legged frogs and endangered arroyo toads.

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