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Idyllwild fire grows to more than 35 square miles

Idyllwild fire threatened a popular tourist destination Thursday and destroyed at least six houses and mobile homes. Tensions heightened late Wednesday after winds shifted, causing the Idyllwild fire to change course and head in the direction of Idyllwild, an artist community and hiking destination in the San Jacinto Mountains.

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Irene Jenke, evacuates from her home on Morris Ranch Rd. with her pets from the Mountain Fire near Lake Hemet on Tuesday. The Idyllwild fire has caused Idyllwild and adjacent communities east of Highway 243 to issued mandatory evacuations for hundreds of homes Wednesday.

Frank Bellino/The Press-Enterprise/AP

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A wildfire in the Southern California mountains was threatening a popular tourist destination Thursday, forcing the evacuation of an estimated 6,000 residents and tourists.

The blaze about 100 miles east of Los Angeles had grown to more than 35 square miles in size and had destroyed at least six houses and mobile homes. Tensions heightened late Wednesday after winds shifted, causing the fire to change course and head in the direction of Idyllwild, an artist community and hiking destination in the San Jacinto Mountains.

Lewis Millett left behind his three-story home after hearing the evacuation order on the radio.

 

"It's never been this bad, and it's never been this close," Millett, 61, said as he sat on a cot in an evacuation center in Hemet, a nearby community. "I have high anxiety."

Millett and his wife gathered up his paintings, sculptures and prized family heirlooms, including a Medal of Honor given to his father in 1951 and several autographed pictures signed by U.S. presidents. An artist, he has lived in the area for three decades.

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