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Hundreds evacuated as California firefighters battle wildfires

By Amy R. Connolly
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A California Highway Patrol officer examines one of 30 cars destroyed as a brush fire spread to vehicles trapped along Interstate 15 in the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino County on July 17, 2015. The fast-moving wildfire jumped the busy I-15 freeway, the main roadway connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas, setting several cars, homes and a big-rig on fire while torching nearly 4,000 acres of land. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
A California Highway Patrol officer examines one of 30 cars destroyed as a brush fire spread to vehicles trapped along Interstate 15 in the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino County on July 17, 2015. The fast-moving wildfire jumped the busy I-15 freeway, the main roadway connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas, setting several cars, homes and a big-rig on fire while torching nearly 4,000 acres of land. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

SAN BERNARDINO , Calif., July 18 (UPI) -- More than 300 campers, including 90 Girl Scouts and another 130 deaf children, were evacuated early Saturday as a fast-moving wildfire swept through Angeles National Forest in southern California, threatening area campgrounds and highways.

The so-called Pine Fire began Friday about 9:30p.m. and has since engulfed some 200 acres along the Angeles Crest Highway. More than 150 firefighters have been trying to douse the flames. No one has been injured.

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At the same time, 676 firefighters are continuing their battle against a second fire, dubbed the North Fire, which jumped Interstate 15 and set 20 vehicles ablaze. While most of the highway lanes have since been reopened, it is only about five percent contained. More than 700 structures are in danger of being destroyed, officials said. Mandatory evacuations are still in effect.

Firefighters said drones being flown by spectators have hindered efforts to douse the flames. Officials said helicopters carrying buckets of water could not fly over the area because the drones were in the way.

RELATED Los Angeles-area wildfire burns almost 4,000 acres, homes and cars

"Fortunately, there were no injuries or fatalities to report, but the 15 to 20 minutes that those helicopters were grounded meant that 15 to 20 minutes were lost that could have led to another water drop cycle, and that would have created a much safer environment and we would not have seen as many citizens running for their lives," said spokesman Eric Sherwin of the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

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