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California Blaze Races Through Wilderness

A 600-acre wildfire raged out of control in steep terrain near Oregon while week-old blazes that have blackened nearly 45,000 acres of brush and forest land throughout the state were nearly contained.

The blaze in rural Siskiyou County was burning about 30 miles south of Oregon in treacherous mountain terrain that made it hard to fight, said Penny Melum, a spokeswoman for the Klamath National Forest.

The blaze started Sunday afternoon when a backyard debris fire got out of control, Melum said.

"It is human-caused, and it just breaks my heart," she said.

About 350 firefighters worked in 80-degree heat Monday to battle the blaze, which was aided by high winds that spread flames along 80-degree slopes. The National Weather Service expected temperatures around the region to heat up this week, with highs in the mid-80s Tuesday and lower-90s Wednesday, accompanied by winds of up to 15 mph.

The few homes in the area were not immediately threatened and no evacuations were ordered, but fire engines were stationed at each house.

The fire did threaten the homes of bears, mountain lions, raccoons and rattlesnakes.

To the south, a 1,100-acre wildfire that burned 60 miles northeast of Sacramento in Yuba County was contained Monday afternoon. No homes were damaged and no injuries were caused by the fire, which started Sunday when high winds knocked power lines into a tree, briefly prompting the evacuation of about 150 homes.

In Southern California, a wildfire that scorched 23,407 acres of brush in the Angeles National Forest, destroyed nine homes and chased away more than 1,000 residents was 90 percent contained Monday night.

The evacuees from Green Valley and other communities began returning over the weekend as cooler temperatures helped firefighters trying to subdue the so-called Copper fire.

Full containment was expected Tuesday evening, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Martin Esparza said.

Several hundred firefighters were released from the scene Monday and about 620 remained to concentrate on surrounding the fire.

"We're pretty much into the final stages of this fire and they're making them available for other incidents," Esparza said.

The fire was accidentally ignited by a grinding tool Wednesday near Santa Clarita, one of Los Angeles' northern suburbs.

Suppressing the fire has cost more than $6.4 million and the figure could reach $9.5 million, officials said. Nine firefighters have suffered minor injuries.

To the west in Ventura County, a blaze that burned across 21,278 acres in the Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai seemed to have stalled.

It was 60 percent contained late Monday night, with full containment expected by Friday, said Jim Turner of the U.S. Forest Service. It began June 1, but did not damage homes or force evacuations. Fighting it has cost $11.5 million, Turner said.

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