Wildfire prompts evacuations in S. Calif. Forest

1:42 AM, Sep 3, 2012   |    comments
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GLENDORA, Calif. (AP) -- A Southern California wildfire in the Angeles National Forest is forcing the evacuation of thousands of visitors who flocked to campgrounds for the holiday weekend.

The fire, which has grown to at least 1,000 acres, or about 1 ½ square miles, is sending a huge cloud of smoke that's visible from many parts of the Los Angeles basin.

Forest spokeswoman L'Tanga Watson says the fire broke out near a campground Sunday afternoon. It quickly grew to several hundred acres as flames chewed thick brush that was not touched by the destructive Station Fire in 2009.

Watson says the fire is burning near a popular recreational area and has also forced the evacuation of the private community of Camp Williams Resort.

About 200 firefighters, aided by four water-dropping helicopters and four air tankers, are attacking the blaze.

Meanwhile, strong winds helped wildfires grow Sunday, burning more than 285 square miles in northwest Nebraska and southwest South Dakota.

Fire officials estimate the largest fire, which began north of Rushville, has burned 150 miles alone. Two other fires nearby burned more than 135 square miles of rugged ranch land.

Rushville Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Kearns says firefighters are working hard to contain the fires and protect property.

But Kearns says firefighters have to make difficult decisions about what can be saved. He says it's hard to watch a rancher's hay burn because of this summer's ongoing drought.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman says it will likely take several more days to fully contain the fires, but he says firefighters appear to have all the resources they need to do that.

(Associated Press)

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