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California wildfire burns through heavy brush

Higher temperatures and lower humidity challenged firefighters battling a 21-square-mile California wildfire that churned through steep, rugged terrain in northeast San Diego County. ...

Higher temperatures and lower humidity challenged firefighters battling a 21-square-mile California wildfire that churned through steep, rugged terrain in northeast San Diego County.

The six-day-old fire burned to the east and northwest, with the most active flames on the northwestern portion of the blaze, an area thick with vegetation and no known history of fire, said Mike Smith, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Firefighters have surrounded 45 percent of the 13,700-acre fire that started Thursday on the Los Coyotes Indian reservation. There is no estimate on full containment, Smith said.

The blaze was not expected to threaten any structures or populated areas.

But firefighters faced temperatures hovering around 100 degrees and low humidity and changing winds that could send smoke into the community of Borrego Springs, Smith said.

The fire has been crackling through grass, brush, oak and pine trees in steep, rugged terrain on the reservation and the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Smith said no known endangered species were being threatened.

Twelve firefighters have reported minor injuries, mostly heat exhaustion. All were treated at hospitals and released.

Seven air tankers were streaking over areas just ahead of fire lines in an effort to thwart the advance of flames while 20 helicopters bombarded hot spots with water drops. More than 2,100 firefighters were fighting the blaze.

The Borrego Palm Canyon Campground and Trail and the Lost Valley Boy Scout Camp have been closed. Officials have not determined the cause of the fire.

About 500 miles to the north in Calaveras County, an 83-acre blaze forced the temporary evacuation of three homes east of the town of San Andreas. The fire was reported Monday afternoon in an area of rocky hills and heavy brush about 50 miles northeast of Stockton. It was 90 percent contained Tuesday evening.

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