MONROVIA, Calif.—Authorities say evacuees have been allowed to return to their homes and firefighters are coming close to controlling a stubborn brush fire in foothills northeast of Los Angeles

City of Monrovia spokeswoman Jennifer McLain says more than 200 firefighters with help from water-dropping helicopters and an air tanker had the blaze in the San Gabriel Mountains 85 percent contained Sunday.

McLain says the fire was sparked Saturday by equipment used by a gardener working in a backyard. Flames spread to the hillside behind the home, scorching about 125 acres and sending a huge smoke cloud that could be seen across the San Gabriel Valley.

More than 300 houses were evacuated at the fire's peak, but by late Sunday afternoon all residents had been allowed to return home.