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Wildfires Are Being Contained

July 30, 2001|RICHARD WINTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Firefighters gained the upper hand on three California wildfires Sunday, predicting that all three may be out within days.

The biggest of the fires consumed more than 3,500 acres southeast of Susanville, but it was expected to be contained by today, said David Stone of the U.S. Forest Service.

More than 1,000 firefighters continued to work Sunday to knock down the blaze in the Plumas National Forest that was sparked by lightning and forced the evacuation of about 100 people from national forest campgrounds.

"Most of the flame died down, but a threat still remains due to dryness in Northern California," Stone said. "We are optimistic we'll have it wrapped up real soon."

Sixty-seven fire engines from as far away as Los Angeles continued to fight the fire that ignited Thursday, along with seven air tankers and seven helicopters.

One firefighter was injured battling the blaze but not seriously, officials said. No major structures have been lost so far, although the fire did destroy a visitor information kiosk and bathrooms at the Antelope Lake Dam. Officials said they expect to allow campers back into the area soon.

Meanwhile, just east of Briceburg in Mariposa County, a 728-acre wildfire was 70% contained and officials said they expected that it will be fully contained by Wednesday. Nearly 1,200 firefighters continued to fight that blaze Sunday about 20 miles west of Yosemite National Park. Sky crane helicopters dropped 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of water and retardant on hot spots with the winds dying down, said Linda Clement, a California Department of Forestry spokeswoman.

The Briceburg fire has resulted in six minor injuries to firefighters but no buildings have been threatened by the blaze, Clement said. The cause of the fire that started Tuesday evening in an unpopulated area near Slate Creek is still under investigation, Clement said.

A 720-acre fire that scorched the Cajon Pass in the San Bernardino National Forest was contained by Sunday, said Ruk Read, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman.

Sparks from a train are believed to have ignited the blaze Friday morning in the Cajon Pass. No firefighters have been hurt and no property damaged, officials said.

Statistics kept by the California Department of Forestry show that as of July 23 the number of acres consumed is up over the same period last year, but below the average for the last five years.

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