Wildfire spreads in Southern California

A wildfire in Southern California believed to have been started by hikers spread to 4,980 acres (1,992 hectares) Sunday, forcing a temporary evacuation of 100 homes west of Palm Springs.

No homes had been destroyed and there were no injuries reported, but the blaze was far from contained, said Kathy Ungemach, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino National Forest.

The fire was started late Friday in Blaisdell Canyon by hikers trying to light a campfire, officials said.

The fire, which began Friday, was expected to be fully contained by Tuesday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Department spokeswoman Sandra Hayes said firefighters believe the blaze was sparked by a vehicle in a dry, grassy area but they could not pinpoint the exact cause. An investigation was continuing, the AP says.

In Utah, a 4,000-acre (1,600-hectare) fire forced temporary evacuations about 150 miles (241 kilometers) east of Salt Lake City, and residents in about 50 homes were warned they might still have to leave.

Fifteen major wildfires were burning in the West on Sunday and had charred more than 114,000 acres (45,600 hectares), according to National Interagency Fire Center. So far this year, more than 7.3 million acres (2.92 million hectares) have burned, about a half million more than last year and well over the 10-year average of 3.9 million acres (1.56 million hectares), according to the center.

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