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Town threatened by Southern California wildfire

fires August 7, 1997
Web posted at: 2:00 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT)

PIRU, California (CNN) -- A brush fire that had torched 10,300 acres by Thursday was about two miles from Piru, a citrus-growing community in Ventura County.

The blaze, 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, forced the evacuation of 30 campers. Piru's 500 residents were told to be ready to get out if necessary.

Bill Peters of the U.S. Forest Service said the number of firefighters battling the blaze had been increased from 700 on Wednesday to more than 1,800. He said six water tanker aircraft were also on standby if needed. The Forest Service was not able to use the tankers Wednesday because of heavy smoke in the area.

Temperatures, which went as high a 108 degrees Fahrenheit, were expected to moderate Thursday, Peters said.

A half-dozen wildfires, including the Piru blaze, blackened more than 31,000 acres in Southern California by late Wednesday.

The largest fires -- the one near Piru and a 21,300-acre blaze near Santa Maria -- were in Los Padres National Forest. Firefighters doused four smaller blazes elsewhere.


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