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Property damage in Alpine fire estimated at $2 million

January 10, 2001

ALPINE (AP) — A wildfire that scorched 10,353 acres before firefighters contained it Sunday night caused an estimated $2 million in property damage, according to preliminary figures.

The fire, which started before dawn Jan. 3 and spread quickly in Santa Ana winds, damaged or destroyed 15 residences, 65 outbuildings, 15 trailers, 64 operable vehicles and 50 to 100 abandoned vehicles, said Capt. Andy Menshek of the San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District.

The numbers were based on field data and interviews with property owners, but officials said Tuesday they could change after further investigation. Officials with the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection were compiling the figures.

The fire, which officials blame on someone tossing a cigarette out their car window while driving on Interstate 8, cost more than $8 million to fight, officials said.

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More than 2,000 firefighters from throughout California and the Southwest battled the blaze with the help of nine helicopters and nine air tankers. About 100,000 gallons of fire retardant and 800,000 gallons of water were dropped.

The Viejas Indian Reservation Fire Department's firetruck was destroyed an hour into the blaze when the fire changed direction, said Gerald Jones of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

AP-WS-01-10-01 0229EST

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