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Crews battle to keep Buck fire from reaching San Jacinto mountains

August 15, 2012 | 10:04 am

Fire crews continued to battle a 3,000-acre blaze in Riverside County on Wednesday, hoping to stay ahead of afternoon winds and rising temperatures and keep flames from reaching the San Jacinto mountains.

More than 400 firefighters from across the state were on hand for the so-called Buck fire, which began just before 1 p.m. Tuesday near the community of Aguanga, a sparsely populated area south of Hemet and east of Temecula. The fire has ripped through dry brush and grasslands, prompting the evacuation of more than 30 homes and injuring at least one resident and two firefighters.

Cal Fire spokesman Glenn Barley said crews "made good work" overnight on the fire, which was 15% contained. Cooler weather Wednesday morning — temperatures hovered in the 80s — and calm wind conditions have helped, he said, allowing hand crews and aircraft to douse some hot spots and cut fire lines.

PHOTOS: Riverside brush fire

"It'll give them a chance to get in there and work on it," he said.

But officials worry that the triple-digit temperatures expected later in the day — along with the afternoon winds that blow regularly through that part of the county — will fan the flames east toward the San Jacinto mountains.

No additional evacuations have been ordered, Barley said, but residents should be prepared.

"Anyone who is in the fire area should be ready to go," he said.

Rick Vogt, another Cal Fire spokesman, said the blaze is fuel driven, meaning dry grass and brush — not winds — are feeding it right now. The amount of dry fuel worries crews, he said, along with erratic winds that could come from heat-born thunderstorms predicted Thursday.

Another concern, Vogt said, was a lack of available resources. The agency is also battling fires in northeast San Diego County and in Northern California.

"This is the fourth major fire in California," Vogt said. "We're very limited on what we can do."

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— Phil Willon in Riverside

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