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By Michael Fiala CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. (Reuters) - A deadly wildfire near California's Big Sur coast raged mostly unchecked for a ninth day after gutting nearly 60 dwellings and forcing hundreds from homes and campgrounds, but a wind shift late on Saturday was expected to help firefighters quell the blaze. The so-called Soberanes Fire, which erupted on July 22 just south of the oceanside town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, has roared through more than 35,000 acres (14,164 hectares) of drought-parched chaparral, grass and timber in and around the Los Padres National Forest. The fire zone grew by several thousand acres on Saturday, even as firefighters hacked away more vegetation to keep containment lines extended around 15 percent of its expanding perimeter, officials said.
Sixteen people were killed when a hot air balloon crashed in a fiery blaze on a rural field in central Texas, authorities told local media, one of the deadliest such accidents in history. The balloon burst into flames and plummeted to earth soon after dawn outside the town of Lockhart, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Austin, Lynn Lunsford of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement. "When the Emergency Responders and the Sheriff's Office arrived on the scene, it was apparent that the reported fire was the basket portion of a hot air balloon," the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office said in a statement posted to Twitter.