Gold Rush in Reverse

California battles a wildfire in the land of Mark Twain and Bret Harte

Calaveras County was once the heart of the Gold Rush. This August the rush has been for the exits. Stubborn forest fires swept through drought-stricken timber and brush, threatening a score of scenic small towns, once made famous by Mark Twain and Bret Harte, and forcing nearly 14,000 residents to flee. Nearly 4,000 fire fighters labored throughout the week, bringing the flames under control just as another wildfire broke out in Northern California's Shasta County.

Several hungry fire fighters who tried to use state-issued meal vouchers were turned away by local restaurant owners who didn't trust the budgetless state government to...

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