Archive for Sunday, January 7, 2001

Crews douse California fire

January 7, 2001

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— Cooler temperatures and rising humidity on Saturday helped firefighters surrounding lingering hot spots of a blaze that destroyed six homes earlier this week.

The Southern California fire, apparently sparked by a cigarette tossed from a car Wednesday, was 60 percent contained Saturday morning, said Betty Hawk, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.

The afternoon temperatures in Alpine, 30 miles east of San Diego, were expected to hover around 68 degrees over the weekend. The humidity level also has soared to 40 percent, up from about 13 percent Wednesday. The blaze was expected to be fully contained by Monday evening.

"Really, the weather is cooperating with us," fire spokeswoman Audrey Hager said. "We're still mopping up the hot spots. But the fire is not moving, which is good."

More than 10,000 acres were burned, but the fire had dwindled to about 40 acres Friday.

The cost of fighting the fire was estimated at $5.3 million so far, and the tally likely will reach $10 million, Hawk said.

Six homes and several other structures were destroyed. The blaze forced the closure of two Indian casinos and temporarily closed a 12-mile stretch of an interstate on Wednesday.

At the height of the blaze about 500 people had to evacuate their homes. By Friday, all but a handful had been allowed to return.

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