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Firefighters direct water on a burning house during wildfires in San Bernardino, Calif., Oct. 31.

Fierce, dry Santa Ana winds off the southern California mountains eased early Friday (Nov. 1), helping firefighters make progress in corralling major wildfires that have displaced thousands of residents, according to Reuters.

A flurry of 25 mph wind gusts late Thursday triggered multiple smaller blazes that kept firefighters busy, with more homes torched and residents evacuated. But rescuers were grateful for the reduction in wind speeds from 80 mph that had fanned and spread the flames earlier in the week.

“We’re seeing a marked reduction in the wind speeds,” senior National Weather Service Meteorologist Patrick Burke at the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Md. “We’ll see steady winds of 15-20 mph through Friday, so that still doesn’t help, but it’s way down from what it was. We’ll continue to see a marked reduction through the weekend. I’d say this wind event is about over.”

A fresh spate of wildfires roared to life on Thursday, destroying homes and forcing evacuations, before the Santa Ana winds lost their punch overnight.

But a fresh brush fire broke out atop South Mountain late Thursday in Ventura County, consuming more than more than 4,000 acres and destroying some buildings, and local media reported it had more than doubled in size by early Friday.

Among several new wind-driven fires erupted Thursday on the rugged slopes of the San Bernardino National Forest above the city of San Bernardino, barreling downhill into the north end of town.

The so-called Hillside fire quickly devoured more than 200 acres (80 hectares) of dry scrub and destroyed or damaged at least six homes before firefighters managed to keep the flames from advancing farther, fire officials said.

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