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Homes evacuated as Calif. wildfires spread

Associated Press
Published February 7, 2006

ANAHEIM, Calif. - A Southern California wildfire driven by Santa Ana winds ate through 1,200 acres of wilderness Monday near Orange County suburbs, forcing evacuation of 1,500 homes.

The dwellings, in Anaheim and the city of Orange bordering Cleveland National Forest, were protected by fire crews and there were no reports of damage by midafternoon, said Orange County Fire Authority spokesman Dennis Shell.

Pungent smoke stained the skies brown for miles across the Los Angeles metropolitan region.

"The ash was coming down like snow, I had all the windows and door shut because it was just overwhelming," said Kathie Scott, who was told by a firefighter to evacuate her Mayberry Ranch home. She got out with two dogs but had to leave behind a cat and two guinea pigs.

Red flag warnings for critical fire danger were posted for much of the region, from Santa Barbara County south to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Hundreds of firefighters were brought in, along with aircraft to make retardant and water drops. Gusts of dry wind hit 60 mph in the morning, with sustained winds of about 30 mph, but they moderated in the afternoon, officials said.

The cause of the fire had not been determined.

[Last modified February 7, 2006, 01:13:13]

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