MINERAL, Calif. — Residents of a tiny mountain town breathed easier Friday after air tankers and helicopters blunted the run of a massive wildfire in Northern California just outside Lassen Volcanic National Park.

"After hearing the news, I think I feel a whole lot better today," said Bob Einck, a contractor. He added that he didn't expect to have to continue to remove belongings from his vacation home in Mineral to protect them from fire danger.

Fire crews working by air Thursday repeatedly doused the spearhead of the Ponderosa Fire with water and flame retardant as it crept up the deep Battle Creek Canyon threatening the national park and the town of about 190 homes.

CalFire spokesman Don Camp said firefighters made significant progress against the blaze, stopping its stubborn run only miles from Mineral.

"We didn't sustain any significant growth for the first time in four days," Camp said.

Residents, meanwhile, gathered at the Lassen Mountain Lodge, which serves as a gateway to the park and has become a makeshift fire command center, and studied the latest fire map, which shows the blaze more than two-thirds contained at nearly 30,000 acres, or 44 square miles.

"Today is going to be a critical day," Camp said, noting that winds were expected to slow Friday. Full containment is expected early next week.

Sixty-four homes and 20 other buildings have been destroyed, mostly in the Manton area, since lightning ignited the blaze Saturday, Camp said. It was still threatening 900 other homes scattered through the rugged countryside as it burned a new front to the south.

About 2,500 firefighters were battling the blaze scorching piney hills about 30 miles southeast of Redding.

Efforts to protect Mineral have had a noticeable effect, according to Wade Glenn, who manages the lodge. He said that when the fire started smoke was heavy in the air, causing tension among area residents. Glenn said Friday that the skies were a hazy blue and people were feeling much better.

Gale Gilbert, a retired California Highway Patrol traffic officer, said the fire in the canyon looked like a mass of little campfires after the heavy dousing from the air.

"You get concerned, but there's not much you can do but wait, and make sure your insurance is paid up," he said. "I feel pretty comfortable coming down and looking at the maps and hearing people talk."

The Ponderosa Fire is one of two fires at the popular park not fully contained. The Reading Fire _located on the opposite side near Redding – was contained earlier this week and has led to the reopening of more areas of the park.

Park Superintendent Darlene Koontz said Friday that while there still may be smoke in some areas, park officials will reopen more areas as soon as they are deemed safe.

Otherwise, most of the park's popular trails are open.

Elsewhere in the state, firefighters battling a large blaze in Plumas National Forest braced for gusty winds this weekend. The fire, about 120 miles north of Sacramento, has consumed 99 square miles since it started at the end of July. It threatens about 900 homes and was a little more than half contained on Friday.

The California fires were among several stubborn blazes scorching the West.

In Washington state, crews have nearly contained a nearly two-week-old wildfire that has destroyed 61 homes and 35 outbuildings and damaged at least seven other properties, officials said.

The fire located about 75 miles east of Seattle has caused an estimated $8.3 million in property damage. Officials say it should be fully contained by Wednesday.

In Idaho, officials said three major wildfires that continue to threaten homes and cabins in the state's mountainous backcountry are likely to burn well into fall and won't likely be out until the snow flies.

On the 173-square-mile Trinity Ridge Fire some 50 miles northeast of Boise, crews on Friday feared blustery weather from a dry cold front moving through that could make it even tougher to control flames that have forced the evacuation of several remote communities including Featherville. Accompanying lightning was also a worry, officials said.

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Collins reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writers Phuong Le in Seattle and John Miller in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

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  • Smoke from the Ponderosa fire creates a red haze on the setting sun near Mineral, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. The Ponderosa Fire was 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. The blaze threatened 900 other homes Thursday as it burned a new front to the south. More than 2,500 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which grew to 44 square miles in the hills about 25 miles southeast of Redding. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Fire crews prepare to drop water unto the Ponderosa Fire from a helicopter near Mineral, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. The Ponderosa Fire was 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. The blaze threatened 900 other homes Thursday as it burned a new front to the south. More than 2,500 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which grew to 44 square miles in the hills about 25 miles southeast of Redding. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Jay Johnson

    Jay Johnson photographs a ridge filled with smoke from the Ponderosa Fire near Mineral, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. The Ponderosa Fire was 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. The blaze threatened 900 other homes Thursday as it burned a new front to the south. More than 2,500 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which grew to 44 square miles in the hills about 25 miles southeast of Redding. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Residents and law enforcement personnel watch the Ponderosa Fire from a lookout point near Mineral, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. The Ponderosa Fire was 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. The blaze threatened 900 other homes Thursday as it burned a new front to the south. More than 2,500 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which grew to 44 square miles in the hills about 25 miles southeast of Redding. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Residents and law enforcement personnel watch the Ponderosa Fire from a lookout point near Mineral, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. The Ponderosa Fire was 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. The blaze threatened 900 other homes Thursday as it burned a new front to the south. More than 2,500 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which grew to 44 square miles in the hills about 25 miles southeast of Redding. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Neita Reid

    Neita Reid, of Paynes Creek, Calif., watches the Ponderosa fire burn through binoculars from a lookout point near Mineral, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. The Ponderosa Fire was 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. The blaze threatened 900 other homes Thursday as it burned a new front to the south. More than 2,500 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which grew to 44 square miles in the hills about 25 miles southeast of Redding. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Neita Rei, Ron Reid

    Neita Reid, far left, and her husband Ron, second from left, of Paynes Creek, Calif., watch the Ponderosa fire burn from a lookout point near Mineral, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. The Ponderosa Fire was 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. The blaze threatened 900 other homes Thursday as it burned a new front to the south. More than 2,500 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which grew to 44 square miles in the hills about 25 miles southeast of Redding. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Fire crews drop water unto the Ponderosa Fire from a helicopter near Mineral, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. The Ponderosa Fire was 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. The blaze threatened 900 other homes Thursday as it burned a new front to the south. More than 2,500 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which grew to 44 square miles in the hills about 25 miles southeast of Redding. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Fire crews prepare to drop water unto the Ponderosa Fire from a helicopter near Mineral, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. The Ponderosa Fire was 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. The blaze threatened 900 other homes Thursday as it burned a new front to the south. More than 2,500 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which grew to 44 square miles in the hills about 25 miles southeast of Redding. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • From left, Kelly Strong, Jane Carney and Sherrill Jenkins, owners of a vacation home in the community of Mineral, Calif., watch helicopters drop water and fire retardant on the Ponderosa Fire. The women said they have gathered belongings from the vacation house and stacked them downstairs in case they get the order to evacuate. The Ponderosa Fire is 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • A firefighting helicopter flies over a stream of traffic driving past the Ponderosa Fire on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 outside Mineral, Calif. The Ponderosa Fire is 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • A helicopter drops fire retardant on the Ponderosa Fire deep in Battle Creek Canyon on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 west of Mineral, Calif. The Ponderosa Fire is 57 percent contained, with full containment expected early next week. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • Beth Glenn, whose family owns the store, motel, restaurant and other commercial operations in the tiny Northern California mountain town of Mineral talks Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 about living with a massive wildfire just 6 1/2 miles west of town. She said she is not nervous, coming from a family of firefighters, and lived for many years with the fires in Southern California. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • Dusty Hoetger watches as smoke rises from the Ponderosa Fire along Highway 36 near Paynes Creek, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. More than 2,400 firefighters are battling the Ponderosa Fire that has destroyed 64 homes and burned more than 27,000 acres. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

  • Cal Fire Division Chief Scott Lindgren explains efforts to contain the Ponderosa Fire to Tehama County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Mike Paisley on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 outside Mineral, Calif. Lindgren said helicopter and air tanker drops were focused on the spearhead of the fire deep in Battle Creek Canyon, where bulldozers and hand crews cannot get at it on the steep canyon walls. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • A helicopter drops into Battle Creek Canyon outside Mineral, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 with a load of fire retardant for the spearhead of the Ponderosa Fire. Fire officials said they were trying to stop the spread of the fire with retardant and water drops to keep it from running up the canyon and through commercial timberland. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • A helicopter loads up with fire retardant Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, while fighting the Ponderosa Fire, which has destroyed 67 homes and 20 outbuildings about 30 miles southeast of Redding, Calif. Helicopters and air tankers doused the spearhead of the fire on the southeastern flank to keep it from running up Battle Creek Canyon and threatening Lassen Volcanic National Park. The fire was about 6 miles west of the mopuntain community of Mineral, the gateway to the park. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

  • Lorri Whittenburg, left, hers her mother, Bonnie Davis pack her crystal in preparation that she might have to evacuate if the Ponderosa Fire threatens her home in Mineral, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. More than 2,400 firefighters are battling the Ponderosa Fire that has destroyed 64 homes and burned more than 27,000 acres. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

  • A sign thanking firefighters for their work fighting the Ponderosa Fire is seen in in Manton, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. More than 2,400 firefighters are battling the Ponderosa Fire that has destroyed 64 homes and burned more than 27,000 acres. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

  • Inmates heads out to build a fire line for structure protection from the Ponderosa Fire near Paynes Creek, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012. The Ponderosa Fire, which has scorched about 38 square miles since Saturday, was 50 percent contained Wednesday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The threat to homes about 35 miles east of Redding has dropped from 3,500 earlier this week to roughly 200 residences. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)