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Southern California wildfire forces evacuations

Mon., Aug. 29, 2005

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – A wildfire believed to have been started by hikers spread to 4,980 acres Sunday, forcing a temporary evacuation of 100 homes in the forest west of Palm Springs.

No homes had been destroyed and there were no injuries reported, but the blaze was far from contained, said Kathy Ungemach, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino National Forest.

The fire was started late Friday in Blaisdell Canyon by hikers trying to light a campfire, officials said.

It forced the shutdown of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway on Saturday for the first time in at least 15 years, said Tim Jones, lead supervisor for the tramway. The tram transports passengers up a steep canyon of the San Jacinto Mountains to a vantage point above the Coachella Valley at about 8,500 feet.

In Northern California, firefighters were able to stop the expansion of a 1,800-acre wildfire that destroyed 30 buildings, injured three firefighters and forced residents of Manton to evacuate, an official said.

The fire, which began Friday, was expected to be fully contained by Tuesday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Department spokeswoman Sandra Hayes said firefighters believe the blaze was sparked by a vehicle in a dry, grassy area but they could not pinpoint the exact cause. An investigation was continuing.


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