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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 fires that erupted over the weekend. As many as 800 people nearby residents and children at summer camps left Sunday under a voluntary evacuations.

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 fire broke out Saturday afternoon and was reportedly started by an illegal campfire.

Firefighters were using vehicles and a helicopter to get people from the campground to safety.

``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 destroying 1,336 acres of brushland and a home, three mobile homes, two sheds and four vehicles.

The Pechanga Indian Reservation was hardest hit. Jessie Herrera lost her mobile home.

``Everything’s gone. Everything my children gave me. Their birth certificates, pictures. ... Even my rabbit died,″ she said.

Most of the fires broke out Saturday during a heat wave that snapped a 112-year-old temperature record in downtown Los Angeles. At noon Sunday, it was 93 degrees downtown and 96 in Riverside with humidity at only 10 percent.

In Utah, firefighters made gains on a 7,800-acre fire on Beaver Mountain, containing 78 percent of it. Lightning ignited the fire on June 16 near Pole Creek in southwestern Utah.

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