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Raging California wildfires claim first fatalities

Last Updated: Monday, August 31, 2009 - 15:14

Los Angeles: Officials say two firefighters have been killed when their vehicle rolled off a mountainside as they battled a massive wildfire in northern Los Angeles County.

County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant said at a news conference that the two men were amid intense fire near Mt Gleason in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday afternoon when the vehicle crashed.

A tearful Bryant said the men`s families have been notified. He did not release their identities or give a cause for the crash.

The fire has consumed 66 square miles, destroyed at least 18 structures and was threatening some 12,000 homes.

Raging wildfires gained ground around Los Angeles where California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger oversaw the battle against blazes that have injured three and threaten more than 10,000 homes.

The fire, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) long, was burning largely out of control along a ridge in a mostly populated area north of Los Angeles. It was under five percent contained, firefighters said.

The US Forest Service said the blaze has destroyed 14,000 hectares (35,200 acres).

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, August 31, 2009 - 15:14
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