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Fire burns home, threatens others in rural SoCal

Posted: August 2, 2012 10:00 a.m.
Updated: August 2, 2012 10:00 a.m.

Firefighters battle a wildfire to save a home in the La Cresta area above Murrieta, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. Authorities said Wednesday afternoon that the fire surged from 220 acres to about 400 acres in less than an hour. It was just 10 percent contained.

MURRIETA, Calif. (AP) — A large home in an upscale area of rural Riverside County went up in flames Wednesday and several other homes were threatened by a brush fire burning in heavy vegetation.

The fire has burned 350 acres and was 50 percent contained, with full containment expected by Thursday morning, said CalFire spokesman Phil Rawlings.

The wildfire broke out about 11:30 a.m. in Murrieta, about 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

The fire started when brush was ignited by sparks that were sent off when the motor of brush-clearing equipment became entangled in some barbed wire, Rawlings said.

The blaze enveloped a large, two-story home Wednesday afternoon. Television images showed the flames leaping out of the home's roof as plumes of gray smoke blanketed surrounding hillsides.

Homeowner Rick Snyder said the loss of family pictures and keepsakes won't be too devastating because everyone made it out of the house safely.

"None of us died, it's fine," Snyder told NBC-4 as he stood on a road near the fire lines. "We'll have new parties and new photos."

Rawlings says most of the multi-million-dollar homes in the posh La Cresta area sit on 5-acre lots, and the community's residents are very proactive about brush clearance and fire safety.

"I was told (the destroyed house) was on a knoll and had vegetation completely around it making it difficult to protect," Rawlings said.

Air tankers, several helicopters and more than 150 firefighters were on the scene to stave off flames creeping toward several large hillside homes.

Three firefighters sustained minor injuries in the firefight, with one burn, one ankle injury that occurred when the firefighter was working on steep terrain, and one heat related injury, Rawlings said.

There were no reports of mandatory evacuations.


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