Friday, June 29, 2007

Reuters story, June 29 afternoon

Crews hold line in six-day California Tahoe blaze
Fri Jun 29, 2007 7:43PM EDT
By Kathryn Reed

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif., June 29 (Reuters) - Firefighters have prevented a six-day-old wildfire near California's Lake Tahoe from spreading into some of the resort area's most densely populated neighborhoods, officials said on Friday.

The Angora Fire, which broke out on Sunday in rugged forest terrain filled with bone-dry timber south of Lake Tahoe, is 70 percent contained, they said.

The blaze has consumed 3,100 acres (1,250 hectares), 254 homes and 75 commercial buildings in an area which is one of California's most scenic attractions anchoring a popular alpine recreation area on the state's border with Nevada.

Losses are estimated to be as much as $150 million. In some neighborhoods, only foundations and other hardened structures of homes survived the conflagration.

Kitty Babb, 79, lost her home of 30 years. One of the few items Babb saved as she fled the fire was an American flag from her late husband's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.

"I won't rebuild," Babb said. "I'm moving to Minden (Nevada) to be with my son."

John and Gloria Sawyer found little remained of their second home, which had been occupied by a renter.

"He didn't get anything out," Gloria Sawyer said.

More than 2,000 firefighters backed by helicopters and airplanes dropping water and repellent and 166 engines have labored to prevent further losses.

They have focused their efforts in recent days on the fire's northern containment line on the edge of residential neighborhoods of the town of South Lake Tahoe.

Although an advisory for strong winds remains in place, officials expect the fire will be fully under control by Tuesday evening.

Fire crew members throughout the week have said the blaze likely was caused by humans, but were uncertain if it was set accidentally or intentionally.

Despite the fire and damage, tourists were expected to swarm Lake Tahoe for the Fourth of July holiday week.

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