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Western fires force thousands from homes

Drought, winds feed fires in California, Nevada

A fire burns brush Friday near a house in Bleich Flats Kings Canyon, near Lake Hughes, California.
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A wildfire spreads destruction near Carson City, Nevada.

LAKE HUGHES, California (CNN) -- A 14,000-acre wildfire forced more than 1,000 people to evacuate their homes in Lake Hughes as the blaze swept across Angeles National Forest, fire officials said Friday.

Erratic winds pushed the Pine fire over tinder-dry brush in an area that is under drought conditions. The blaze is one of more than a dozen wildfires burning in California.

A fire continues to burn uncontrolled in Nevada under similar conditions.

The Pine fire has consumed three houses since it broke out Monday. More than 2,000 firefighters are battling the blaze.

A traffic accident killed one firefighter as he left the fire line. Three other people have been injured, officials said.

The flames jumped three fire lines in three days, and authorities fear winds could push the blaze over its current ridge into the city of Lake Hughes, about 30 miles north of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, a fire on the outskirts of Nevada's capital has burned 6,100 acres since it began Wednesday, fire officials said. The fire is about 30 percent contained.

More than 1,200 firefighters worked on the ground to stop the flames' spread, while aircraft attacked them from above.

Firefighters began the air assault after winds, which had gusted to 40 mph Thursday, calmed Friday morning. Meteorologists warned that the wind would pick up again Saturday.

Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn said the winds made the fire the "meanest, ugliest, [most] uncooperative" fire in a long time.

Flames as high as 100 feet incinerated 14 homes in Carson City. Firefighters used foam and water to save dozens more.

Authorities issued mandatory evacuation orders to residents of 1,000 threatened homes.

"We're telling the public, 'Let us do our job. ... Stay away from it if you don't have to be there,'" interagency fire spokesman Kirk Frosdick said.

Carson City asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for money to clean up the area once the flames are extinguished, Guinn said.

Five people -- four of them firefighters -- have been injured in Nevada, but none seriously, authorities said.

The cause of the fire is being investigated. Authorities want to question teenagers who had a party in the area before the fire broke out.

Dozens of people forced out of their homes -- some of them crying -- sat with packed cars, watching the flames move closer.

Matthew Murdock and his family evacuated their home of 20 years Thursday. Looking at the smoke and flames nearing his neighborhood, he said, "I'm just really nervous."

Another woman whose home was consumed said, "I'm not mad. I'm very sad."

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