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California firefighters gain ground on Simi Valley brush fire

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- California firefighters said Thursday they have gained ground on a Simi Valley brush fire fanned by strong winds that could cause the blaze to spread rapidly.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Department said the fire was expected to be fully contained by 6 p.m. PST Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported. Officials said early Thursday the fire was about 20 percent contained.

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Officials said about 300 firefighters from Los Angeles and Ventura counties were working to control the blaze, which started Wednesday, KNBC-TV, Los Angeles, reported.

The Lilac fire fire had burned 10 acres by midnight Wednesday. At one point, the fire threatened about 20 homes, officials said.

Santa Ana winds gusting to about 35 mph "are almost blowing us over," said Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mike Lindberry. He said brush in the area is so dry, "if we have an ember blow out, it has a 90 percent chance of igniting and starting a new fire."

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