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1,000 firefighters tackle wildfire

More than 1,000 firefighters are still battling to contain a wildfire that has forced 1,800 people to flee their homes in the rugged mountains east of Los Angeles.

The fire grew by 2,000 acres to 25 square miles overnight into Friday, but was significantly less active later in the morning. Evacuations of a handful of communities remained in effect as a safety precaution, said fire spokesman Eric Solomon.

The wildfire burning 90 miles east of Los Angeles in the San Jacinto Mountains since Wednesday has destroyed 26 homes and threatened more than 500 other residences, forcing some 1,800 people to flee.

Six people have been injured: one civilian with serious burns and five firefighters whose injuries included heat exhaustion.

Firefighters focused protection on Friday on the tiny community of Snow Creek, a shift from a day earlier when the threat appeared aimed at portions of the city of Cabazon.

Scores of residents in Cabazon were evacuated in the pre-dawn hours on Thursday and returned after sunrise to pack up more belongings and watch the flickering line of fire snaking along the brown, scrubby mountains.

Most of Southern California's severe wildfires are associated with Santa Ana winds caused by high pressure over the West that sends a clockwise flow of air rushing down into the region.

This week's fire, however, was being fanned by an anti-clockwise flow around a low pressure area over north-west California.

The National Weather Service said on Friday that conditions could change in the second half of next week, with weaker winds in the mountains and deserts.

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