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    Calif. wildfire inching closer to Idyllwild, residents evacuated

    11:52 AM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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    IDYLLWILD, CA (CBS) -- Firefighters are facing another day of extreme heat and low humidity as they battle a wildfire in the mountains near Palm Springs. The blaze has already scorched 35 square miles of national forest and forced 6,000 people from their homes.

    California fire officials now say people, not lightning, started the wildfire that threatens mountain towns east of Los Angeles and the City of Palm Springs. An investigation is underway to determine if it was started intentionally.

    As the fire inches closer to the town of Idyllwild, authorities plan to airlift firefighters onto the last mountain ridge standing between the town and the blaze. Public Information Officer Tom Efird says, "The whole idea is to keep the fire up on the ridge. We've been painting the ridge with fire retardant. We are now going to get boots on the ground, get troops up there to cut fire line where it is safe to do so."

    A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for residents in Idyllwild, but no one is being forced to leave. Authorities say if the fire spreads into town they may not be able to help those who stay.

    Aaron Erlandson is willing to take that chance for now. He says, "The fire is no imminent danger, it can be a danger but it is not imminent so there is no need to leave right now."

    Since Monday the fire has scorched at least six homes and this summer camp. Officials are hoping cooler temperatures and maybe some rain over the weekend will help about 3000 firefighters get a handle on this wildfire.

    There have been no reports of serious injuries or deaths.

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