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Fire lights the sky near Idyllwild, Calif., early Thursday. Flames have spread close to Palm Springs. (Reuters /Landov)

Wildfire Near Palm Springs Is 'National Priority'

Jul 18, 2013

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As a blaze that's already burned more than 23,000 acres draws within about two miles of Palm Springs, Calif., officials are saying it's atop the U.S. Forest Service's list of wildfires that need to be fought.

"We are the national priority right now," U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Jeanne Pincha-Tulley told reporters Thursday.

Eyder reported earlier Thursday that about 6,000 people in and around the resort town of Idyllwild have already been evacuated because of the fire. The blaze began on Monday. About 3,000 firefighters are now on the scene, and the fire is about 15 percent contained, according to InciWeb. Several homes have been destroyed, but so far there are no reports of deaths or serious injuries.

The Los Angeles Times says "it's unclear if the weather forecast for the next couple of days will help or hurt the cause. Near Idyllwild, temperatures are expected to stay in the 90s through Friday before cooling off. More moisture and possibly rain could help firefighters, but that also means thunderstorms."

Our colleagues at Southern California Public Radio are following the news closely, including on a special "Fire Tracker" Web package. NPR's national "Fire Forecast" interactive graphic is here.

Also Thursday, NPR's Christopher Joyce reported on how: "Wildfires Will Worsen, And Further Strain The Forest Service."

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