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UPDATE: San Diego County wildfire is 30 percent contained

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Posted: June 18, 2012 9:38 a.m.
Updated: June 18, 2012 1:10 p.m.



CAMPO, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire that prompted the evacuation of at least 150 homes in eastern San Diego County and nearly doubled in size overnight is 30 percent contained, officials said Monday.

But authorities with California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection warned that the 820-acre blaze east of Campo still threatens 200 houses, sheds and other buildings.

Nearly 500 firefighters have been dispatched to attack fire, which forced a mix of mandatory and voluntary evacuations and destroyed one home and one other structure, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the department.

Water-dropping helicopters doused the area Monday, and firefighters braced for temperatures to rise and winds to pick up speed. A red-flag warning signaling prime wildfire conditions was scheduled to take effect at noon.

"As we get close to triple digits, we're going to probably see a lot more active spots," Berlant said as wind whipped through the area. "We still have quite a bit of work ahead of us here."

Still, fire officials expect the blaze to be fully contained Tuesday night.

The wildfire began at about 2 p.m. Sunday near the Golden Acorn Casino and sent flames burning along Old Highway 80. An evacuation center was set up at the casino.

Authorities evacuated 150 homes overnight. Evacuation orders were later made voluntary, but that could change if conditions shift during the afternoon, said Arlene Fletcher, a supervisor with the San Diego County sheriff's communications center.

Resident Mary Kanel told U-T San Diego that she watched from the casino parking lot as both her mobile home and her mother's mobile home went up in flames. The two residences were on the same property, across from the casino.

"We didn't get to grab" anything, a tearful Kanel told the newspaper. "We put three dogs and two cats in the cars. That was it. We had to go."

The red-flag warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday, said James Thomas, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service for the San Diego region. The area can expect to see winds between 10 and 15 mph and gusts up to twice that in the afternoon, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Meanwhile, a 300-acre fire near Cabazon prompted the evacuation of 15 families overnight. The evacuation orders were lifted Monday and the fire was 40 percent contained, Riverside County fire officials said.

A 2,200-acre wildfire that erupted Saturday in a remote area of the county was 70 percent contained Sunday night.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.





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