Brush fire east of San Diego swallows about 20 houses

LOS ANGELES Mon Sep 24, 2012 2:15pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California firefighters battled for a second day on Monday to contain a brush fire that has destroyed an estimated 20 homes and prompted the evacuation of dozens of other dwellings near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The so-called Shockey Fire erupted near the Campo Indian Reservation in southeastern San Diego County on Sunday and has scorched at least 2,000 acres, though no injuries have been reported, authorities said.

The origin of the fire was under investigation, but Blanca Mercado, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said officials are looking into the possibility that the blaze started in Mexico.

Property losses from Sunday in the fire zone, about 50 miles east of San Diego, are estimated at 20 houses and 15 other buildings destroyed, with about 10 other dwellings damaged, Mercardo said.

She said Sunday evacuation orders remain in effect and fire managers were expecting hot, dry Santa Ana winds from the desert to gust up to 25 miles per hour later in the day.

As of Monday, 18 fire crews consisting of nearly 400 personnel were assigned to the blaze, along with six airplane tankers, six water-dropping helicopters and five bulldozers, Mercado said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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