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Fires force evacuations in N.M., Calif.

Sun., June 2, 2013, midnight

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Fire crews in New Mexico fought two growing wild blazes Saturday that have driven people from their homes and scorched thousands of acres.

New Mexico officials said an uncontained blaze near Santa Fe had spread to nearly 10 square miles, making it apparently the largest of several wildfires burning in the West as it placed the city under a blanket of haze.

Officials asked residents in about 140 summer homes to evacuate as a crew of more than 400 battled the flames near the communities of Pecos and Tres Lagunas.

Another New Mexico blaze, the Thompson Ridge fire near Jemez Springs, grew to nearly two square miles by Saturday night, state forestry officials said. Between 40 and 50 homes in the area were evacuated as more than 200 crew members and a helicopter were fighting the blaze burning through pine forests and brush.

Elsewhere in the West, fire crews worked to beat several other fires, including one in California.

Residents of more than 1,000 homes were ordered to leave Saturday as erratic winds pushed a wildfire closer to two foothill communities north of Los Angeles. The wind shifted in several directions, fanning the fire in the Angeles National Forest to nearly nine square miles, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy.

By dusk, it marched downhill toward Lake Hughes and Lake Elizabeth, west of Lancaster, he said.


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