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The 186 fire pits on San Diego’s beaches and shoreline parks have been saved for the next year and a half.

Mayor Jerry Sanders just announced that an anonymous donor stepped up to pay the $259,500 estimated to keep the fire pits burning through June 2010.

According to a fact sheet put out by Sanders’ office, the donor “said he is not a frequent user of the fire pits himself” but “wanted every child to be able to know the joys of a bonfire on the beach.”

The fire pits were set to be closed as part of budget-cutting measures recently approved by the City Council. The concrete pits were estimated to cost the city $173,000 a year to operate because of the weekly cleaning costs.

About a dozen fire pits that have been removed already will be returned to the parks, according to mayor’s spokesman Darren Pudgil.

And Sanders’ office is putting the word out that if anyone wants to keep the fire pits in business beyond June 2010, they must raise the cash by December 2009 in order to make it into next year’s budget recommendations.

— RANI GUPTA

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