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IE wildfire 50 percent contained

September 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Firefighters are still on the scene of a fast moving wildfire burning in the Cleveland National Forest.The wildfire broke out just before 4 p.m. on Saturday east of Temecula near Vail Lake along Highway 79. The brush fire has devoured more than 340 acres and destroyed a dozen structures including several homes.

Crews expected to have the fire fully contained early Sunday morning but were unable to knock out the flames. The fire was 50 percent contained Sunday morning. Full containment is expected later in the afternoon.

On Saturday afternoon flames destroyed everything in its path. The erratic winds are what drove the fire.

Close to 100 people were evacuated as fire crews battled to save as many homes as possible. Two hundred campers at Vail Lake RV resort were told to stay put but ready to leave if conditions got worse. Air tankers and helicopters attacked the fire from the sky.

Residents said the flames were enormous and the wind was whipping up from every direction.

"None of this has burned since the 60's," said resident John Montiel.

"The fire was moving really rapidly and threatening a lot of homes in its path," said Fernando Herrera from Cal Fire. "A lot of wind, 15 to 20 mile per hour wind. It made it more difficult for firefighters."

Authorities are working on assessing all the damage.

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