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Western Wildfires

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The woman accused of starting the huge fire in California's Sequoia National Park is due in court in Fresno Thursday to face charges.

Peri Van Brunt was arrested at her home in Bakersfield Wednesday. She's being held on federal felony charges of unlawfully starting a fire.

Authorities say she's cooperating, and they're looking at the case as an accident rather than arson.

A Forest Service officer says witnesses told investigators the woman went into a store Sunday saying she'd been cooking hot dogs, and that her campfire had blown out of control. Then, he says, she ran off as the campfire turned into a conflagration.

The fire threatening the ancient sequoias has now spread over 55,000 acres. It's just five-percent contained, and temperatures today are expected to climb above 100.

More than 1,000 firefighters and 12 air tankers are battling the fire. At least a thousand campers and residents have fled.


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