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Western wildfires: Southern California fire roars to life

By The Associated Press

Wildfires are chewing through parched parts of the West, including a resurgent blaze in California that forced residents of some desert communities to flee their homes. A look at the latest hotspots and what crews are doing to control them:

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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

A huge, week-old wildfire roared to new life in the rugged terrain in the San Bernardino Mountains, threatening thousands of homes and other structures as it stretched northeast into the desert.

The blaze about 90 miles east of Los Angeles has consumed some 40 square miles - nearly a quarter of that in the last two days. Residents of the tiny Mojave communities of Burns Canyon and Rimrock were ordered to leave their homes Thursday.

Evacuations were voluntary in nearby Pioneertown, where Old West-style wooden buildings were constructed for use as a movie set in the 1940s.

At Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, a landmark restaurant and music venue, owner Linda Krantz got updates from forest rangers. She could see a huge plume of smoke from the fire that ran onto a wildlife preserve 5 miles away.

Crews relied on retardant-dropping aircraft to battle the hard-to-reach fire, which began June 17 in mountain wilderness. The fire was partially contained.

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

A week after lightning ignited a massive wildfire south of Lake Tahoe, hundreds of firefighters are still trying to get the 26-square-mile under control.

Some of the 210 residents of Markleeville have heeded a voluntary evacuation order and left the mountain town. Several campgrounds were previously evacuated, and two highways remain closed.

No buildings have been damaged in the fire about 20 miles west of the Nevada border, the Bureau of Land Management said. As of Friday morning, it was partially contained.

Meanwhile, a fast-moving blaze charred more than 50 acres and damaged three structures Thursday evening in Livermore, east of San Francisco. One firefighter was injured, but no further details were released.

The fire was quickly contained, but a barn, a vehicle and a shipping container were destroyed and a home was damaged.

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ALASKA

Wildfires are spreading in Alaska, but no new evacuations from threatened communities are underway.

Nearly 300 fires were burning across almost 945 square miles, with much of the activity in the dry and hot interior. Some places are so smoky that flights have been grounded, even for fire crews.

Fire managers are prioritizing where to send fire crews stretched thin as older fires wind down.

Earlier this week, residents in threatened communities and rural neighborhoods fled during voluntary evacuations. Among those affected were tribal villages and an international mushing champion who evacuated his sled dogs.

A tribal nonprofit flew out more than 60 elders, children and vulnerable adults on Tuesday from an Athabascan village, Tanana, which is about 4 miles from the edge of a fire nearly 59 square miles in size. Smoky conditions have prevented more evacuations.

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OREGON

Firefighters have kept a wildfire in a remote part of southwestern Oregon at just over 8 square miles.

Incident commander Doug Johnson said low humidity, temperatures nearing 100 degrees and winds pushed on the fire Thursday with little effect. It's more than halfway contained, but firefighters will keep watch as thunderstorms in the coming days threaten to cause more problems.

The lightning-sparked blaze started June 11 and is burning in the Rogue-River Siskiyou National Forest.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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