Rancho Mission Viejo Brush Fire Contained

RANCHO MISSION VIEJO, Calif., Nov. 19 (UPI) — Firefighters contained a stubborn southern California brush fire that burned 145 acres near a scenic highway but threatened no homes, fire officials said.

Four firefighters were slightly injured fighting the Rancho Mission Viejo, Calif., blaze, Orange County Fire Authority spokesman Capt. Greg McKeown said.

At one point flames reached 15 feet high, but hand crews using shovels and chainsaws spent several nights hacking through dense brush to cut containment lines around the blaze, the Orange County Register reported.

A helicopter dropped fire retardant on a burning ridge south of State Route 74, known as the Ortega Highway, part of the Pines to Palms Scenic Byway.

Fire officials originally said the blaze scorched 250 acres, but the damage was downgraded to 145 acres after crews with mapping technology flew over the fire, McKeown said.

Authorities believe the fire was sparked accidentally Monday morning when a tractor crashed into a power pole off the highway, sending downed power lines into dry brush.

Commuters on the highway reported the fire was quickly spreading over the steep hillsides, the newspaper said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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