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California: Fire threatens homes, closes interstate

(Reuters) - A brush fire burning in a mountain pass outside Los Angeles on Friday forced authorities to evacuate a foothill community and shut down a major interstate linking Southern California and Las Vegas.
The blaze broke out in a median strip of Interstate 15 in the Cajon Pass and quickly spread to scrub brush on both sides of the highway, threatening homes in the community of Oak Hills, authorities said.
San Bernardino County Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said residents of Oak Hill were under a mandatory evacuation order as crews battled the flames.
Water-dropping aircraft were also being called in to fight the fire, which broke out at about 12:30 p.m. local time and had charred more than 500 acres by mid-afternoon.
Bachman said it was not immediately clear how many homes or people were evacuated in Oak Hill. She said homes in the area sit on large tracts of land.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
Television images showed the blaze burning near Interstate 15, a major north-south route between Southern California and Las Vegas, and closing in on nearby homes as thick black smoke poured into the air.
A spokesman for the California Department of Transportation said both sides of Interstate 15 were shut down as firefighters battled the blaze.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)
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