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Living on tinder hooks in forest fire country

Living on tinder hooks in forest fire country

From this teensy town, which bills itself as the "exact center of California," the Willow fire did not look especially menacing. White smoke billowed up, away from people, away from homes, into the Sierra National Forest's clear blue sky. Scattered homes and two campgrounds near the fire area had been evacuated over the weekend, but no one sought refuge with the Red Cross in Oakhurst until Thursday, when a mandatory evacuation was ordered for Cascadel Woods, a hamlet about a mile from the flames. The local pet shelter tended 20 displaced cats and dogs, plus one goldfish. Vacationers a few miles away at Bass Lake paused to watch the weirdly picturesque scene. They were...

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