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Wildfires scorch California

Mon., Oct. 22, 2007

MALIBU, Calif. – Nearly a dozen wildfires driven by powerful Santa Ana winds spread across Southern California on Sunday, killing one person near San Diego, destroying several homes and a church in Malibu and forcing hundreds from their homes.

The Malibu fire was among at least 10 blazes stretching from north of Los Angeles to San Diego as hot weather and the strong winds marked the traditional height of the wildfire season.

Four firefighters and at least 10 other people were injured and taken to hospitals in connection with the fire near San Diego, said Matt Streck, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry. Details on the death were not immediately available.

The blaze burned nearly 3,000 acres near a highway about 70 miles southeast of San Diego, just north of the border town of Tecate, Streck said, adding that some of the injured were hikers.

In Malibu, about 700 firefighters worked to protect about 200 homes in several upscale communities in the hills, officials said. About 1,500 people fled, officials said.

The blaze had charred at least 1,200 acres and destroyed a church and several homes, one of them a landmark castle. No residents or firefighters were injured, Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman said.


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