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Fires Burn 7,000 Acres Near Temecula, 500 Acres at Vandenberg Air Force Base

September 02, 1997|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

After scorching about 7,000 acres, a Riverside County brush fire near Temecula was expected to be fully contained today by an air and land contingent of nearly 1,040 firefighting personnel.

The blaze was 90% contained late Monday.

A state Department of Forestry spokeswoman said there were no injuries but that two trailer homes, six vehicles, one tractor and two other minor structures had been burned. Spokeswoman Joanne Evans said other property damage may become apparent today when crews are able to survey all of the burned areas.

The blaze, which began about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, was sparked by a campfire that blew out of control near Rancho California, an unincorporated area 17 miles east of Temecula and 10 miles south of Hemet, Evans said. Investigators were trying to determine who was responsible for the campfire. Evans said the firefighting efforts are expected to cost $1 million.

State firefighters were joined by the U.S. Forestry Service, the Riverside County Fire Department and other firefighting agencies from San Diego and Riverside.

The force included about 1,040 firefighters, 12 air tankers, four water-dropping helicopters, 81 engines and 12 bulldozers.

By Monday morning, authorities had the blaze sufficiently under control to enable dozens of evacuated residents to return home.

Officials said that although about 50 residents had been evacuated to Temecula High School, most of the homes in the area had not been threatened because residents had cleared their properties of dangerous brush.

At Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County, a 500-acre fire burned out of control for a time near an empty but active missile silo, said base spokesman Sgt. Michael Ward.

It was 80% contained by Monday evening.

There was no missile or crew at the launch facility when the fire began at 1 p.m., Ward said. The silo was not damaged nor were there reports of injuries.

County crews assisted the base fire department. The cause was under investigation.

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