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Fires Destroy Dozens of Buildings in Southern California

July 1, 1996

IDYLLWILD, Calif. (AP) _ A volatile mix of dry brush and record heat fueled more than a dozen wildfires across Southern California that destroyed 30 buildings and burned across 13,000 acres.

A 7,600-acre blaze that burned to within two miles of the Riverside County mountain resort of Idyllwild was the largest and most dangerous of the weekend fires.

As many as 800 residents of the area and children at summer camps evacuated voluntarily Sunday.

Gunfire of an unknown origin sparked the blaze, which was about 30 percent contained early today in the San Bernardino National Forest.

A pair of brush fires in the Angeles National Forest 45 miles northeast of Los Angeles burned across 1,200 acres and prompted a voluntary evacuation of about 500 hikers from a campground, said Eddie Hesbol, a U.S. Forest Service dispatcher.

The blaze reportedly was started Saturday by an illegal campfire.

``It’s in a blowup condition right now and getting bigger. It’s hot and dry and the winds are picking up,″ said U.S. Forest Service Fire Capt. Tony Heiman. ``It burns 10 times faster uphill and that’s what it’s doing.″

A fire near Temecula, some 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles, was contained after burning 1,336 acres of brush and a home, three mobile homes, two sheds and four vehicles.

``Everything’s gone. Everything my children gave me. Their birth certificates, pictures. ... Even my rabbit died,″ said Jessie Herrera, who lost her home.

The fires came during during a heat wave that snapped a 112-year-old record in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday: 98 degrees. Sunday’s high was 96, not a record; today’s forecast was for highs still in the 90s.

Elsewhere in the West:

_Utah firefighters contained 70 percent of a 7,800-acre fire on Beaver Mountain. Lightning ignited the fire on June 16 near Pole Creek in southwestern Utah.

_A 3,400-acre fire in western Nevada that destroyed four houses and forced the evacuation of more than 3,000 people near Lake Tahoe was expected to be under control by tonight, fire authorities said. The fire, which was started by two teen-age boys June 23, was declared contained on Friday.

_Idaho’s biggest range fire of the season doubled in size Sunday to 8,600 acres on the rim of the Snake River in southwestern Idaho. Crews hoped to have it controlled today. The blaze, started when a hawk flew into a power line, raced through dense, dry grass, officials said.

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