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15 Killed in Mexico Forest Fire

May 5, 1998

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ At least 15 Mexicans trying to put out a forest fire in the southern state of Puebla were killed when a sudden wind shift surrounded them in flames, officials said today.

The residents died Monday in a remote area called Ixtacamaxtitlan near the village of Texocuixpan, 80 miles southeast of Mexico City.

The dead included two boys, age 13 and 15. Three other people were hospitalized for injuries suffered in the fire, state Interior Secretary Carlos Meza Viveros told the government news agency Notimex.

As many as four people were missing, Puebla state spokesman Alejandro Perez said.

Edgar Siles Serrano, a Red Cross representative, said the blaze was brought under control this morning. More than 500 people were forced from their homes, he told Notimex.

In neighboring Veracruz state, the Reforma daily said two firefighters and a soldier died Monday while trying to put out another fire.

Hot, dry weather blamed on the El Nino phenomenon has contributed to a rash of fires that have burned more than a quarter-million acres in Mexico this year.

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