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California Fires Approach San Diego

Firefighters tried to make progress against a 25-square-mile wildfire creeping toward rural communities east of San Diego, while a blaze threatening expensive canyon homes in Los Angeles was contained.

Firefighters hoped cooler weather Wednesday would help them combat the blaze, which has burned 16,400 acres over four days through Cleveland National Forest east of San Diego. The blaze was about 15 percent contained, officials said.

The fire triggered an evacuation of the small community of Carveacre, and a half-dozen other little clusters of homes were on notice they might be next. Officials said homes in and around Lake Morena Dam, Pine Valley, Potrero and Guatay remain threatened.
The National Weather Service predicted high temperatures in southern California would dip below triple digits Wednesday for the first time in 10 days. Highs were forecast to be in the low 90s near the San Diego County fire lines.

"We're not out of the woods yet, but some of these communities are in a lot better shape than yesterday," U.S. Forest Service spokesman Stanton Florea said Tuesday.

In Los Angeles, a small blaze caused tense moments at midday Tuesday as it raced among expensive homes in Benedict Canyon above Bel Air Estates and Beverly Hills. One home was damaged.

Firefighters on pool decks and patios hosed down smoking slopes as helicopters made water drops. With little to no wind to fan it, the blaze was fully contained after scorching about 15 acres.

At least five firefighters around the state have suffered heat-related illnesses during the 10-day heat wave, officials said.

"If you get behind on drinking water, you can't catch up," said firefighter Jon Sanchioli, 46. "We had one guy go down yesterday. We know you've got to be careful. If you keep on pushing, your body shuts down."

Elsewhere in California, a blaze ignited by lightning on ranch land east of San Ardo in southeastern Monterey County grew to 13,000 acres, equal to about 20 square miles, and was 66 percent contained.

In counties northwest of Los Angeles, firefighters were battling two major lightning wildfire clusters in Los Padres National Forest. The 2,200-acre San Rafael complex was burning in rugged terrain near Cuyama. On the southern end of the forest, the 2,203-acre Mount Pinos complex was 52 percent contained.

Fire crews in neighboring Arizona virtually contained a wildfire that had threatened to reach two power lines that feed electricity to the Phoenix area. By Monday afternoon, officials declared the fire 95 percent contained, with full containment expected Tuesday morning.

Milder temperatures and increasing humidity were helping fire crews beat back three blazes burning in timber stands along the rugged slopes of the central Idaho mountains.

In Montana, a fire that flared Tuesday near Florence threatened a cluster of homes and destroyed one. Residents were asked to evacuate as the blaze grew to 250 acres, or just more than a third of a square mile, officials said.

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