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Huge Calif. fire destroys homes, could grow larger

Published July 14, 2006

YUCCA VALLEY, Calif. - A 40,000-acre fire chewed through desert wilderness Thursday after destroying 100 homes and buildings and was on course to possibly merge with a blaze in the San Bernardino National Forest.

The huge fire edged northwest toward the forest, burning greasewood, Joshua trees, pinon pines and brush on the desert floor. Containment was just 20 percent.

About 5 miles away, a 7,000-acre fire in the forest was 5 percent contained.

Evacuation orders were lifted for several communities, including the old Western film locale of Pioneertown, but new evacuations were ordered for dozens of homes in Morongo Valley.

Authorities said the odor of smoke from the blazes 100 miles east of Los Angeles could be detected in Las Vegas and Ogden, Utah.

Fire officials said that both fires could link up on the desert floor.

[Last modified July 14, 2006, 02:38:31]

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