Crews battle California wildfire amid heat wave; 30 homes evacuated, no immediate risk posed

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SANTA ANA, California — Hundreds of firefighters battled both flames and triple-digit temperatures Saturday as they sought to contain a wildfire that forced people to flee about 30 homes near Southern California's Cleveland National Forest.

The fire, which burned through about 2 ½ square miles of dry canyon brush, was only about 10 percent contained Saturday, said Deanne Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Emergency Operations Center.

Meanwhile, both heat and smoke advisories were in effect for the area, with temperatures forecast to reach as high as 105 degrees between Saturday and Tuesday.

On Friday, officials ordered the evacuation of about 30 homes in the area. None were reported burned, and authorities said it was just a precaution, but residents remained out of their homes on Saturday.

More than 700 firefighters, aided by six helicopters and five fixed-wing aircraft, were battling the blaze, which was first reported Friday morning. It was expected to continue to grow before it is contained, although no additional structures were immediately threatened.

"The fire is making a couple of uphill runs on us," Orange County fire Capt. Mike Petro said Saturday. "We know that the numbers we have will probably go up. We don't know exactly how much."

The flames sent up a towering column of smoke that could be seen for miles throughout Southern California.

Although temperatures were high, firefighters who worked in the steep terrain were aided by light winds. Three firefighters suffered undisclosed minor injuries.

The National Weather Service says high pressure combined with a weak offshore flow could create high temperatures throughout the weekend reaching up to 20 degrees above normal through Tuesday.

About 90 to 100 homes in the area were without power Saturday, and Thompson said authorities had opened several cooling centers for people needed to escape the heat.

The Cleveland National Forest sprawls over the rugged peaks of the Santa Ana Mountains, straddling the Orange and Riverside county line southeast of Los Angeles.

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