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Wildfire rages through village

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RIDGECREST, Calif. (AP) — A fire ragging in the rugged Sierra Nevada swept through a tiny community on the remote Kern Plateau, destroying eight homes as it swelled to more than 60,000 acres Sunday.

"The last folks in there were the firefighters, and they headed out just in time to get out of the fire's way," said Kern County Fire Department spokesman Chuck Dickson.

The flames charred pine forest and brush as they spread from the Sequoia National Forest, gaining 10,000 acres overnight Saturday and threatening homes along the fire line, about 120 miles north of Los Angeles on Sunday.

Firefighters estimate it will take nearly two weeks of digging to surround it, and there's no telling how much the fire will grow in the meantime, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Geri Adams.

The forecast for the area was for hotter and drier conditions combined with afternoon thunderstorms, Adams said, adding, "That wind won't help us either."

The Sierra Nevada blaze was one of about 50 fires burning more than 488,000 acres across the nation Sunday, the National Fire Information Center reported. In the West, wildfires continued to burn in Montana, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Arizona and New Mexico.