GRIFFITH PARK – A brush fire that charred more than 800 acres in Griffith Park and threatened some of the city’s most popular landmarks was nearly contained tonight, allowing firefighters to send hundreds of evacuated residents back to their homes. Aided by water-dropping helicopters that flew overnight, firefighters had three quarters of the blaze surrounded Wednesday evening and expected full containment sometime today. “We made great progress … There is no active fire that is still moving, which is good. The wind really cooperated,” Los Angeles City Fire Capt. Rick Godinez said. Godinez noted, however, that the lack of precipitation this rainy season has dramatically raised the wildfire risk this year. “It looked like Armageddon,” the 23-year-old Edwards said. “Everything was ablaze.” About three-dozen residents spent the night at Marshall High School, where an evacuation center was set up for residents ordered to flee their homes. The evacuation order was lifted this morning and the center closed down in the afternoon. The fire, believed started by a tossed cigarette near one of the park’s golf courses, burned an estimated 817acres in the 4,200-acre park, including the landmark terraced garden, Dante’s View. Helicopter crews continued to fly deep into the narrow canyons, dropping water from Silver Lake reservoir, and fire retardant onto the flames. Armed with chainsaws, rakes and a water hose, inmates from the county Fire Department’s San Francisquito Camp got to work Wednesday leveling brush and charred tree branches. Overhead, water-dropping aircraft targeted a hot spot along Vista Del Valle Drive, where 10-foot flames licked at a smoldering tree. County Fire Capt. Bill Cyr directed the two crews in orange jumpsuits – 28 men in all – up the steep hillside finish the job. “The air drops are effective,” he said. “But they won’t get the fire out. You got to have the people. You got to have tools.” The fire hit during animal mating season, sending deer and other creatures fleeing from the flames. Officials said some animals could head into residential neighborhoods. Firefighters from as far away as Santa Barbara arrived Wednesday to relieve exhausted crews who battled the blaze overnight. Tinder-dry conditions caused by record-dry precipitation this winter, along with erratic winds and rough terrain, made the fight especially challenging. An unidentified 20-year-old man was questioned after he was discovered near the ignition point of the fire, on the northern edge of Franklin D. Roosevelt Municipal Golf Course. He suffered second-degree burns on his hands and chest and was being treated this morning at the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital. Los Angeles Fire Capt. Antoine McKnight said the man was talking with investigators and cited for smoking in a brush-fire area. “We are not prepared to say whether it’s arson or accidental,” McKnight said. Officials said they had sent their information to the District Attorney’s Office. Grant Mudford packed his van with his valuables Tuesday night and then waited at his home. When flames came over a hill just 100feet from his house on Dundee Place, he drove to a friend’s home. He returned around 11p.m. to protect his place from looters and stayed up nearly all night with his dog. “When you have only one-half hour to decide what’s important to you, it’s interesting what you grab,” he said. “The dog was No.1” Staff writers Sue Doyle and Eugene Tong contributed to this story. [email protected] (818) 713-3741160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It’s a recipe for a good brush fire.” The park and its main attractions – the observatory, the Los Angeles Zoo, golf courses and the Autry National Center – were expected to remain closed at least through today. Officials said a concert scheduled today at the Greek Theater has been canceled. After a sudden change in wind direction, the fire burned out of control Tuesday evening, racing dangerously close to homes in the Los Feliz area, forcing the evacuation of 200 homes. Towering orange flames also came close to the Greek Theatre and the newly renovated Griffith Observatory. In the end, the fire damaged just one home. Driving away from her apartment near Griffith Park on Tuesday with a box of treasured photos, Lindsay Edwards headed for a friend’s place and kept an eye on the fire.