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Fire Rages in Kern County

June 30, 2003|From Associated Press

LEBEC, Calif. — A wildfire raged across the hills just south of Fort Tejon State Historic Park on Sunday and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate.

The fire began around 2:15 p.m. when a vehicle caught fire by the Golden State Freeway, about a quarter of a mile south of Fort Tejon, officials said.

The flames threatened 200 houses lining two canyons along the west side of the freeway, the main road connecting Northern and Southern California. Officials evacuated several hundred people, said Kern County fire Capt. Tony Plant.

About 300 firefighters and emergency crews descended on the area.

"We have bulldozers making fire breaks. We have crews of firefighters in among the homes, and we have other crews using backfires," Fire Capt. Doug Johnston said.

The fire quickly spread across the dry grasses, covering 500 acres by Sunday night, Johnston said. Winds slowed by evening.

"We've got a fire that's just running with the topography. There's not a lot of wind behind it, so that helps us out," Plant said.

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