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Tijuana mayor says 71 houses burned in recent fires

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TIJUANA, Mexico -- The mayor of Tijuana says 71 houses burned last week in fires just south of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Local officials believe gusty Santa Ana winds and residents burning trash were key factors in creating the destructive fires, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

At least eight fires swept across cities in Baja California Friday, killing at least three people and burning hundreds of homes and buildings, according to the newspaper. Other blazes burned in Tecate, Rosarito and Ensenada.

“This is the strongest Santa Ana wind-related fires ever to strike Baja California in its history, due to the number of cities and houses affected and the number of people that have perished,” Baja California’s Director of Civil Protection Antonio Rosquillas told the U-T.

Ahead of what could be the strongest winds of the season to lash San Diego and Baja California, Tijuana's government urged residents not to burn trash.

“Although there are declarations that affirm the fires are due to winds and climate change ... neglect and negligence have also been the cause of these fires,” Jorge Alberto Ayón Monsalve, the city's Secretary of Public Safety and Citizen Protection, told the U-T.

Read Wendy Fry's full report here.

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