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California wildfire blamed on drug operation

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  • Wildfire burning in southern California believed to be tied to marijuana operation
  • As of Saturday, fire crews had 35 percent of fire contained
  • Authorities believe suspects are still in forest trying to leave area by foot
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A weeklong blaze that has charred more than 84,000 acres in southern California was started by a cooking fire in a drug trafficking operation, investigators said.

The La Brea fire originated at an illegal marijuana camp believed to be run by a Mexican drug organization, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Narcotics Unit said in a news release Saturday night.

More than 2,000 firefighters are fighting the blaze, which is 35 percent contained, authorities said. Some homes around the Los Padres National Forest have been evacuated.

Narcotics investigators have secured the area after working for the past month to eradicate marijuana operations in the remote and steep terrain, the release said.

"It is also believed that the suspects are still within the San Rafael wilderness trying to leave the area on foot," officials said.

Anyone with further information is urged to contact local law enforcement agencies.

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