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Officials: Tahoe fire caused by campfire

Wildfire 85% contained; all evacuation orders are lifted.

BY STAFF REPORT | SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. | July 1, 2007

Firefighters continued mop up operations for a wildfire that has burned for the past week near South Lake Tahoe, reporting the blaze was 85 percent contained Saturday night.

The fire was started by an illegal campfire, officials reported.

The fire was held steady after burning 3,100 acres since it erupted last Sunday afternoon. The blaze destroyed 254 homes in the popular resort area.

Full containment was still predicted for Tuesday, one day before the Fourth of July holiday and a planned massive fireworks display in the community that typically attracts 100,000 visitors.

Forest Service officials said they did not know who was responsible for setting the campfire. They said it was not believed to have been set to spark the wildfire.

All evacuation orders were lifted at 8 a.m. Saturday, the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office announced, but only residents were allowed back into their burned out neighborhoods. About 3,500 residents were forced to evacuate at various times during the past week.

More than 2,100 firefighters had battled the blaze. Three injuries were reported. The cost of battling the fire as of Saturday was put at $5.7 million.

Several local churches and at least one faith-based organization - Baptist Men's Ministries for the California convention - have announced plans to help the community recover. Local businesses and individuals also were planning to assist residents affected by the fire.


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