Thousands of acres ablaze in California for 2nd time in recent weeks

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Southern California Wildfire (Credit: CNN)

Southern California Wildfire (Credit: CNN)

PALM SPRINGS, Calif.-  — Thousands of acres of a Southern California forest are going up in flames for the second time in less than three weeks.

Together, the two blazes have scorched a large hole out of the wooded mountains near Palm Springs.

A steady wind is blowing the wildfire toward the east while more than 1,400 firefighters struggle to contain it.

It was first reported on Wednesday after burning 300 acres black. It has since scorched more than 14,000 acres, or 22 square miles, and is 20% contained, fire officials said.

“This fire … was one of the most quickly spreading, rapidly spreading, dangerous fires I’ve ever seen,” Riverside fire chief John Hawkins told CNN affiliate KTLA.

The weather forecast in the drought-stricken area offers no hope.

The sun will blaze through dry, clear skies this week, the National Weather Service says.

It will push high temperatures to near 100 degrees, keeping the forest flammable, while crews try to douse raging flames with the help of 139 engines, nine helicopters, four bulldozers and four water trucks.

Flames have consumed 26 homes and one business. About 1,500 people have fled from their path and seven communities have been ordered to evacuate, fire officials said.

Evacuation centers have been set up at area high schools.

“It’s heart-wrenching. It’s very heart-wrenching,” Joanne Trosper told CNN affiliate KTLA, after watching the fire consume some of her neighbors’ homes in Poppet Flats. “Anytime the fire comes, it’s bad memories, but this is the worst one yet.”

July’s wildfire, just a few miles away, was even worse.

It devoured more than 27,000 acres and 6,000 people were ordered to evacuate, before 3,400 firefighters could get the flames under control.

Luckily, rain came to their aid.

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