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Evacuations lifted as progress made on Riverside County's Buck fire

August 16, 2012 |  5:39 am

Mandatory evacuations for more than 30 Riverside County homes were lifted Wednesday evening as crews made progress on the Buck fire that has charred more than 2,500 acres in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Nearly 1,000 firefighters from across the state have worked to control the blaze, which has burned about 2,700 acres and stood at 40% containment as of Wednesday evening. Cal Fire officials previously reported about 3,000 acres had been scorched, but said later that "more accurate mapping" resulted in an updated number.

Firefighters spent most of Wednesday working to keep the blaze from spreading east onto Cahuilla Mountain.

PHOTOS: Riverside County wildfire

"Right now, we pretty much have the spread stopped," said fire agency Capt. Mark Barr. He added: "It's looking good, and we're going to keep it that way."

The fire has ripped through chaparral and grasslands, injuring two firefighters and one civilian, who sustained third-degree burns.

Barr could not say whether the man lived in the area but said he did not come from any of the homes or trailers nearby.

"He just came from out there," Barr said, pointing to the desolate, empty foothills. "He was walking and talking, but his burns were pretty severe."

Four structures were destroyed, including one house, but crews managed to save other homes on the northern edge of the fire, officials said. Also Wednesday, fire crews said they found a hidden marijuana field and two men possibly trying to protect their illicit grove from the approaching flames.

The fire has cost an estimated $1.5 million to fight and is one of nearly a dozen major blazes burning across the state.

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-- Phil Willon in Hemet and Kate Mather in Los Angeles

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