Calif. wildfire wreaks havoc on Point Reyes

The Associated Press

INVERNESS, Calif. Brisk sea breezes fanned the embers of an illegal campfire into a blaze that raced to the rocky Pacific Coast yesterday, destroying more than 45 buildings on the scenic Point Reyes peninsula.

Hundreds of people were forced from their homes as the wildfire spread across 8,000 acres of dust-dry Bishop pine and dense brush.

About 1,000 fire fighters battled the blaze, using bulldozers to plow up a firebreak along the southern flank and cutting through brush by hand.

Air tankers and helicopters dumped water and fire retardant.

Eponine Cuervo, 41, took her two cats, one dog and computer with her when she fled her home, one of about 200 in the 65,000-acre Point Reyes National Seashore.

''The deer and all the wild animals are burning,'' she said. ''The park won't be the same for years. Everybody who lives here loves that park. It's not just the houses.''

About 48 buildings believed to include houses, were destroyed and another 12 were damaged, officials said.

The blaze started Tuesday afternoon near Mount Vision, about 35 miles north of San Francisco, when sea breezes apparently rekindled the buried embers of a campfire and winds gusting to 30 mph sent the flames sprinting through groves of pines that burned ''like Roman candles,'' said the Marin County fire prevention officer, Chris Collins.

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