At least 35 cabins burned and about 100 homes evacuated amid Washington state wildfire
POMEROY, Wash. – Cooler, damper weather gave an assist Monday to crews battling a wildfire that had exploded in size and destroyed at least 35 cabins.The blaze in forests and wheat fields in the fertile Palouse region of southeastern Washington had grown to 32,000 acres from only 150 acres on Saturday. An additional 120 homes could be at risk and had been evacuated as crews concentrated on protecting them Monday, officials said.Evacuations also were ordered for homes near a small town threatened by a fire in northwestern Montana.Nearly 600 firefighters near Pomeroy were aided by lower temperatures and rising humidity Monday but the wind was expected to kick up, said Don Ferguson, a spokesman for the Northwest Fire Coordination Center. Dense smoke grounded firefighting aircraft for a second day, he said.The cabins that were destroyed, mostly summer residences, were located within the Umatilla National Forest, and the number was expected to rise once firefighters can enter the area for a detailed survey, Ferguson said.”There was a clump of them in a place called Baker Pond,” Ferguson said.The fire, some 10 miles south of Pomeroy, was about 20 percent contained, Ferguson said. No injuries were reported and the cause had not been determined, Ferguson said.Flames had jumped the Tuncannon River and three campgrounds in the area were evacuated.Farmers were plowing up broad firebreaks of bare earth through fields, trying to protect the rest of their wheat and other crops, officials said.In central Washington, a 1,100-acre wildfire near Lake Wenatchee that had threatened homes was 60 percent contained, officials said Monday. No homes had been evacuated.Elsewhere, authorities ordered a number of homes evacuated near the small town of Eureka, Mont., because of a wildfire that had blackened more than 1,500 acres since starting Sunday. Neither the Forest Service nor Lincoln County officials had a count on the number of homes affected.Some buildings had been destroyed, said Marc McGill, Lincoln County emergency management director. “We haven’t determined if they were residences or outbuildings or what they were.”Near Alberton, Mont., an evacuation order remained in effect Monday for 10 homes that were threatened by one of four fires that started last week along Interstate 90.The four fires had burned more than 4,000 acres as of Monday. Two of them were only about 30 percent contained, but the others were no longer considered serious threats, said fire spokeswoman Sharon Sweeney.The fires also threatened a major power line, Sweeney said.Vail – Colorado
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