SAN DIEGO (AP) - A week after a half-million people fled Southern California's wildfires, shelters began closing and residents were figuring out what to do next - even as firefighters aided by a return of damp weather Monday kept an eye on the possibility of new Santa Ana winds developing by week's end.

There was a chance of moderate Santa Anas - the dry winds that fanned the flames last week - returning by Friday, the National Weather Service said.

"Dry offshore winds will not be terribly strong - not nearly as strong as the event that started and pushed the fires - but not weak either," the forecast said.

In the meantime, clouds drawn ashore by low pressure over the Pacific streamed across the region and forecasters predicted areas of drizzle and light showers through Wednesday morning.

Fire crews were already benefiting from precipitation in various areas, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
"We continue to make great progress," he said.

The 58,401-acre Ranch Fire northwest of Los Angeles in Ventura County was fully contained overnight, and crews were pushing to complete lines around six other big blazes.

"It's a little premature to be celebrating, that's for sure," California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Fred Daskoski said. "We're looking for full control within a week but if we get any of these winds returning, there is a possibility that a couple of spots could have a blowout, and then we'd be off to the races again."

The winds, which last week gusted up to 100 mph, pushed flames across more than 500,000 acres and forced thousands into emergency shelters in seven Southern California counties.

As of Monday, the state Office of Emergency Services tallied 2,786 structures destroyed, including more than 2,000 homes.

With nearly all mandatory evacuation orders lifted, wildfire victims were trying to deal with their losses.

Nearly 8,300 people had contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance, said spokeswoman Kelly Hudson.

FEMA has handed out $600,000 in housing assistance so far, most of it for rental payments and hotel stays, she said.

The agency was putting about 260 inspectors in the field to verify claims on properties, she said.

The Red Cross reported 389 people in 11 shelters, though it was unclear how many other remaining evacuees had found their own lodging.

Southeast of Los Angeles, Orange County authorities announced that residents were being allowed to return to many neighborhoods that had been evacuated because of the 28,400-acre Santiago Canyon fire, which still burned Monday in forest near the Riverside County line.

The Orange County blaze was found to have been started by arson, and county Fire Authority Chief Chip Prather on Monday asked the public to call a tip line if they have photos or video taken around the time it started at an intersection between 5:55 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. on Oct. 21.

Elsewhere, some communities also remained off-limits in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles.

In the hard-hit resort mountain communities of Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs, many wanting to return were frustrated by roadblocks outside their neighborhoods.

Brian Babauta, 31, drove up Sunday from a San Bernardino hotel to try to get to his parents' house at Lake Arrowhead, but was turned away at a checkpoint.

Babauta finished the day miles away, sleeping in his truck in a grocery store parking lot.

"We tried getting up there through a back route down a dirt road, and there was a firefighter sitting there saying stuff was still burning," Babauta said. "I just want to see if the rumors are true that my house is still standing."

Others were working out how they would survive financially.

Janet Knecht supports three daughters, a grandson and her mother by cleaning houses in the wealthy mountain communities. She is concerned she may suffer financially until residents return home.

Before the fires, she earned $1,200 to $1,500 each month.

Knecht believes her renter's insurance will cover some of her personal property losses, and she plans to apply for lost wages at FEMA.

"I think we'll bounce back," she said. "The worst will be not being able to recover any of our personal things."

Seven deaths have been directly attributed to the fires, including those of four suspected illegal immigrants, whose burned bodies were found near the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday.

Eleven Mexicans were being treated at a San Diego hospital for burns suffered in the wildfires after they crossed the border illegally, the Mexican government confirmed Saturday. Four were in critical condition.