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California Wildfire Evacuation Sends 6,000 Fleeing from Homes

Hemera/Thinkstock(PALM SPRINGS, Calif.) -- Authorities have issued evacuation orders for more than 2,000 homes in the mountains southwest of Palm Springs, Calif., sending more than 6,000 residents and visitors fleeing an out-of-control wildfire that has already damaged 23 structures, including seven homes.

The latest evacuation orders are affecting people in the Trails End, Idyllwild and Fern Valley communities in Southern California.  In addition to the 2,200 homes already evacuated, there are another 1,900 homes threatened by the wildfire, which began Monday.  Residents in those homes have been told by officials to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice.

But for some, like Pine Springs Ranch resident Lawrence Gotta, it's already too late.

"Lived here for 30 years, built it with my own hands," he said.  "Everything in the world I own is gone."

Officials say the fire has scorched 22,800 acres and was 15 percent contained as of Thursday morning.  The Mountain Fire is being fueled by dry conditions and drought as sizzling temperatures hit triple digits.

Nearly 3,000 firefighters and 17 helicopters are on the front lines, attempting to protect hundreds of business and thousands of homes. 

It has been a particularly brutal wildfire season and firefighters say the worst is likely yet to come.

"The fire behavior you're seeing right now is what we would typically be seeing August to September," U.S. Forest Service spokesman Chris Gaulding said.

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