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Markleeville fire closer to structures

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POSTED June 25, 2015 1:11 a.m.

MARKLEEVILLE (AP) — A wildfire has grown to 26 square miles in hazardous and inaccessible terrain south of Lake Tahoe and is moving closer to structures, officials said.

No buildings have been damaged, but the mountain town of Markleeville remained on standby Wednesday for possible evacuations, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Several campgrounds have been evacuated, and two highways have been closed.

The fire, ignited by lightning Friday, was not at all contained Wednesday.

Air tankers and helicopters helped hundreds of firefighters battle the blaze about 20 miles west of the Nevada border. One firefighter received a heat-related injury Tuesday.

Strong, erratic winds and severe drought conditions have stoked the fire, and smoke can be seen as far away as Carson City, Nevada.

About 1,000 people have been evacuated from homes as a 100-acre wildfire burns through brushy canyonlands north of Los Angeles.

Houses and a mobile home park in the Newhall area of Santa Clarita have been emptied. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says about 30 horses also were moved to safer ground.

The fire began shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday on the shoulder of Interstate 5, briefly closing freeway lanes. Firefighters began to get it surrounded several hours later.

Wind-driven flames were nearing homes, including Dale Lookholder’s. He had collected a bag of prescription medications in preparation for evacuating.

“Just my drugs, that’s all I care about,” Lookholder told KABC-TV. “In the 23 years that we’ve been here, this is as close as it’s gotten. I hope they get a handle on this thing. I just planted flowers.”

More than 400 firefighters from agencies around the region are assisting.

Meanwhile, crews relied on retardant-dropping aircraft to battle a huge forest fire that has been burning for a week in an inaccessible area of the San Bernardino Mountains.

The blaze about 90 miles east of Los Angeles was partially contained after burning nearly 30 square miles of old-growth timber. Several hundred people were forced to leave camps and vacation homes.

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