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San Diego County fire continues to threaten homes

Posted: July 10, 2013 6:52 a.m.
Updated: July 10, 2013 6:52 a.m.

JULIAN, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire that burned more than 100 cabins at a Shriners camp in San Diego County continued to threaten 120 rural homes, but it was appearing to calm down, officials said.

Cal Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser said Tuesday that he hadn't seen active fire all day and calm winds were helping the firefight.

Shriner's International officials said the fire near the town of Julian destroyed the lodge, dining hall and all but about a dozen of 116 cabins on Monday at Al Bahr Mount Laguna Shrine Camp. A Sierra Club lodge across the road also burned.

"It's absolutely heartbreaking," Shriner Donald Wierman told U-T San Diego.

The camp, located 60 miles east of San Diego in the Cleveland National Forest, was leased from forestry officials in 1921. It is at an elevation of 6,000 feet and hosts recreational vehicles with water and electrical hook-ups, according to its website.

The 11-square-mile fire was 40 percent contained on Tuesday night. It jumped Sunrise Highway, burned through the camp and continued to threaten other evacuated campgrounds and about 120 rural homes, mostly empty vacation cabins.

About 30 people were evacuated from cabins and campgrounds earlier this week.

The small cabins provided modest accommodations to Shriners on vacation, and some came equipped with bunk beds and wet bars. The camp's website boasts views of the Salton Sea and the surrounding mountains.

More than 2,100 firefighters waged an air and ground attack. Crews worked amid thick brush in steep, rocky terrain.

With the help of bulldozers, they concentrated on closing the gap in fire containment lines but "we've got hot areas all throughout that fire" as well, state fire spokesman Mike Mohler said.

Five firefighters have been treated for heat exhaustion or minor injuries.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

Shriners International is a fraternity that provides fellowship and also operates a health system of 22 facilities for children's medical care. They are perhaps best known for participating in local parades by driving miniature vehicles and wearing fez caps.



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