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Wildfire in Southern California's Angeles National Forest grows to 4,000 acres, chases out holiday campers

David McNew / Getty Images

A DC-10 jet drops fire retardant over the Williams fire in the Angeles National Forest on Monday north of Glendora, Calif.

A wildfire in Southern California's Angeles National Forest that cut short weekend holiday plans for hikers and campers grew to 4,000 acres on Monday.

The fire, which broke out near a campground Sunday afternoon, was about 5 percent contained by Monday morning, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

The Williams fire prompted the evacuation of about 12,000 visitors who had flocked to campgrounds for the holiday weekend, The Associated Press reported. It sent a towering plume of smoke that could be seen from many parts of the Los Angeles basin.

The forest is heavily used by Southern California residents because it is close to populated areas. Fire officials said that while the campgrounds were not in the line of the fire, they had to be emptied so that the only road in and out of the San Gabriel Canyon could be open just for fire trucks and emergency vehicles.

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Officials Monday morning had set up an evacuation center at nearby Glendora High School, the Los Angeles Times reported.

About 500 personnel, aided by 6 air tankers and eight helicopters, were fighting the blaze, which was burning in steep terrain in the east fork of the San Gabriel Canyon.

No injuries were reported and no structures were threatened, forest officials said.

Evacuation orders lifted in Nebraska
Elsewhere, authorities lifted evacuation orders for some northwest Nebraska residents whose homes had been threatened by wildfires, but crews on Monday were still battling three blazes that had blackened nearly 260 square miles in Nebraska and neighboring South Dakota.

The Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team C said Sunday that smoke and flames from the so-called Douthit and West Ash fires still might be seen near the city of Chadron.

Residents of Whitney, southwest of Chadron, were allowed to return home earlier Sunday.

The Douthit fire was nearly contained and had charred about 47 square miles by Sunday night. The West Ash fire had blackened more than 91 square miles and was half contained.

Evacuation orders have been lifted as well for the so-called Wellnitz fire north of Rushville. The blaze crossed into South Dakota on Friday and broke through containment lines on Saturday.

Following a new aerial survey on Sunday, officials lowered the damage figure to about 120 square miles, down from the 150 square miles in earlier estimates.

The Wellnitz fire was about 27 percent contained, Nebraska Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Jodie Fawl said Monday.

At least three minor injuries were reported, and the fires have damaged at least 10 homes and more than 50 structures in the two states.

"We've got a very challenging situation out here because of the winds and the very dry conditions," Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman said Sunday after touring the damage and meeting with officials. He said it would likely take several more days to fully contain the blazes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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