The Latest: Dozens evacuate from fire in California desert


LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on wildfires in the West (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

A fast-growing wildfire grew to more than 2 square miles in just a few hours and forced dozens of people to evacuate from a tiny town in the California desert near the Mexico border.

State fire spokesman Kendall Bortisser says about 75 people had to evacuate Sunday afternoon from Potrero, a town along State Route 94 just a few miles north of Tecate, Mexico, and about 40 miles southeast of San Diego.

Horses and other animals are also being evacuated in the ranching community.

The blaze broke out shortly before noon amid triple-digit temperatures and significant winds.

Fire officials had initially said the entire community of Potrero, which consists of about 600 people according to the 2010 census, had been evacuated. But they later clarified that only about 75 residents were under evacuation orders.

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6:40 p.m.

A new wildfire has forced the evacuation of hundreds of people from a small town in the California desert near the Mexico border.

State fire officials say the blaze broke out late Sunday morning and by early evening, had surged to nearly 1.5 square miles amid triple-digit temperatures.

An evacuation was ordered for the community of Potrero, a town of about 600 people along State Route 94.

The town is just a few miles north of Tecate, Mexico, and about 40 miles southeast of San Diego.

The Red Cross has opened two community centers and an elementary school for evacuees.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

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3:20 p.m.

Los Angeles firefighters say they have contained a brush fire that threatened homes in a densely populated neighborhood along a freeway.

The fire broke out Sunday along State Route 2, scorching dry brush and trees and burning two structures described as toolsheds.

The freeway was closed as firefighters chased embers and hosed down backyards to douse flames and prevent them from flaring up again.

Neighbors in the Silver Lake area worked together to fight the blaze before firefighters arrived.

Paul Gaffner says he returned home from swimming at a pool to find a neighbor spraying down his burning yard.

The fire ignited as a heat wave sizzles across the region. Firefighters were working in triple-digit temperatures.

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3 p.m.

A Los Angeles fire official says a blaze tearing through brush near downtown has burned several small structures, but not houses.

Capt. Daniel Curry says firefighters were getting a handle on the blaze that spread quickly Sunday near the Silver Lake neighborhood. He describes the structures as toolsheds built into terraced hillsides behind homes.

A Fire Department spokesman said earlier that one home had burned.

The fire broke out as a heat wave sizzles across the region. Firefighters were working in triple-digit temperatures in the densely populated hilly neighborhood near State Route 2.

Curry says firefighters were chasing embers that were igniting as they landed in dry brush near the freeway.

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2:25 p.m.

Los Angeles firefighters and water-dropping helicopters are battling a blaze that has burned one home and threatens several others as it tears through dry brush in a densely populated neighborhood.

A Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott says firefighters are working aggressively in 100-degree temperatures to keep the flames from spreading to other homes in the Silver Lake area near downtown.

Scott says it’s not clear if the fire began in a house or in brush along State Route 2. The hilly area is near Interstate 5 and not far from Dodger Stadium.

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12:05 p.m.

Firefighters say they plan to vigilantly monitor a massive wildfire in central New Mexico amid hot and dry conditions.

Fire officials said Sunday that light winds could fan the blaze that erupted last week in the Manzano Mountains south of Albuquerque.

Higher humidity overnight allowed crews to strengthen lines around the fire and mop up. Firefighters are now keeping watch for any potential hot spots where flames could jump the line.

More than 950 personnel are working to combat the fire, and helicopters and air tankers are dropping retardant.

The roughly 28-square-mile wildfire has destroyed 24 homes and is still a threat to several rural, mountain communities.

It is 9 percent contained, and its cause is under investigation.

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