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Wildfire Spreads in California's Sequoia National Forest

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Federal officials accelerated their attack Sunday on a smoky wildfire that threatened more than 500 homes in central California as they raced to control the fast-moving blaze before hotter, drier weather sets in.

The Shirley Fire in and around the Sequoia National Forest had destroyed at least two structures, authorities said.

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The blaze, which broke out Friday night, was 10 percent contained on Sunday. It was fanned earlier in the day by 17- to 20-mph wind gusts at the mountain ridges.

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Officials anticipated that the blaze would spread toward the evacuated homes in Wofford Heights, a community sandwiched between the fire and Lake Isabella, a popular recreation spot.

More than 1,100 firefighters were battling the blaze in steep, rugged terrain. They were aided by retardant-dropping air tankers and water-dropping helicopters that can fly throughout the night.

Image: Heavy smoke from the Shirley Fire above Wofford Heights, Calif.
Heavy smoke from the Shirley Fire above Wofford Heights, Calif., is seen on Sunday.Casey Christie / The Bakersfield Californian

More fire crews were expected to join the fight. Authorities planned to keep the augmented crews working through a "swing shift" so they don't lose any time during shift changes to make progress, Forest Service spokeswoman Jennifer Chapman said.

"Our current outlook for the forecast is such that we are really ramping up suppression operations over the next couple of days because it's going to be even hotter and dryer at the end of the week," she said.

- The Associated Press