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CaliforniaWildfires 20thLd-Writethru 10-26

Six burned bodies found

On a day when firefighters methodically beat back several of the wildfires menacing Southern California and thousands of evacuees were allowed home, authorities said Thursday they had found six bodies burned by the flames.

Border Patrol agents on routine patrol found four bodies in a wooded area near Barrett Junction, just east of San Diego and along the Mexican border, agency spokeswoman Gloria Chavez said. The area is near a major corridor for illegal immigrants who often walk hours or even days to cross into the United States from Mexico. Authorities said they discovered the bodies Thursday afternoon but did not know how long ago the victims died or whether the flames were responsible for their deaths. They were tentatively identified as three men and one woman.

Two bodies were discovered in the rubble of a burned home in San Diego County. Like a 52-year-old Tecate man killed Sunday in a fire along the Mexican border, the pair had been urged to evacuate. Their deaths brought the number of people killed by flames to three, while seven died of other causes connected to the evacuations.

President Bush surveyed the damage in San Diego’s hard-hit community of Rancho Bernardo, where he draped his armed around a woman who had lost her home. Bush declared seven counties a major disaster area, making residents eligible for federal assistance to help them rebuild.

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