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600-acre fire threatens Calif. mountain town

Associated Press
Published September 8, 2005

SAN DIEGO - Steep terrain challenged firefighters struggling on Wednesday to contain a 600-acre blaze near the picturesque Gold Rush town of Julian, which has survived three major blazes since 2002.

The fire, which was about 30 percent contained, destroyed four hunting cabins.

It spread quickly in the Volcan Mountain area north of Julian in San Diego County, but the wind was blowing it away from the town, said state Department of Forestry spokesman Matt Streck.

"There's obviously something special about Julian," Streck said. "It's been very fortunate."

Julian is about 60 miles northeast of San Diego.

The blaze broke out Tuesday in a rugged timber area where about a quarter of the trees are dead from drought, Streck said.

Firefighters were using five helicopters and five air tankers. One firefighter was hospitalized after receiving 15 bee stings to the face, but was expected to recover, Streck said.

The most recent threat to Julian was a fire that began last October in the Cleveland National Forest east of San Diego.

That blaze burned 422 square miles, killed 15 people, destroyed more than 2,400 homes and caused $819-million in property damage.

[Last modified September 8, 2005, 01:50:14]

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