TODAY   |  May 05, 2013

Weather conditions help contain Calif. wildfires

For a fourth straight day, a California fire burned wild and fast as firefighters moved in to contain it. However, calmer winds and lower temperatures helped to contain the largest fire by more than 50 percent. NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> control of the area's biggest wildfire in southern california . we're live in malibu this morning. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, erica. for the first time in the past several days, firefighters here feel optimistic that they have momentum on their side. the indication is they've opened up major highways in ventura county and have lifted all of the evacuation orders allowing residents to go back to their homes. for a fourth-straight day, a california fire burned wild and fast. this time in banning, just south of los angeles . firefighters quickly moved in to contain it. first on the ground, and then by air. but the biggest fire fight is still here, the springs fire that broke out in ventura county , threatening thousands of homes, including neil michaels' house that sits above the hills of deer creek canyon.

>> two days ago, i was weed whacking right here. so coincidentally. but it's all defensible space and keeping, you know, the brush away from the house and having it a reasonable buffer, at least 100 feet, 200 feet.

>> reporter: erratic winds have been driving the fires the past few days, making their paths unpredictable, leaving local residents like lisa bowman worried.

>> we moved to california, this is my first fire incident, i suppose. and it was a little bit terrifying, because all of a sudden we're watching black smoke coming up over the horizon and getting closer. and we decided, let's go.

>> reporter: the success has come with a little help from mother nature be but it came after years of preparations. local fire officials here have been preparing the community for a blaze like this for the past several years. we've been speaking to officials, and they tell us they have established good contacts, first-name relationships with many of the residents, and that is why many of the people who live in ventura county took this threat seriously and prepared for what we've seen over the past several days, and sparing any loss of life and any major destruction to property. erica?