Neighbors use handtools to try to hold back flames from nearby houses Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, on Bettas Road near Cle Elum, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
winds on gave Washington state firefighters hope of containing a blaze
that left dozens of families homeless, while residents of two small
Idaho towns planned to gather Wednesday and discuss evacuation plans
because of a growing nearby wildfire.
About 800 people were
assigned to fight the Taylor Bridge fire located near Cle Elum, about 75
miles east of Seattle. Better weather conditions made fire managers
"We should have a good day," incident commander Rex Reed said early Wednesday.
In Idaho, fire managers
tried to gather people in Featherville and Pine in the central part of
the state to discuss evacuation plans as the Trinity Ridge that's
burning on about 100 square miles blaze grew closer. Campers in the area
have already been told to leave.
Dry conditions, heat and
strong winds are taxing thousands of firefighters in California. And
smoke from fires near Sacramento, Calif., had day care centers keeping
kids indoors, school districts moving practice times for sports teams
and doctors telling the elderly and very young to not go outside.
A wildfire west of Polson,
Mont., burned about 7 square miles of grassland and timber and forced
the evacuations of 15 residents.
Swirling wind vexed firefighters in Washington state much of Tuesday.
"Chaotic," Kittitas County
Undersheriff Clayton Myers said. "It was one of those things you never
felt like you were in control, because things kept changing with the
Brad Rorem and his two sons
saw the fire under a bridge construction site, where it started, just
down the hill from their cabin near Cle Elum. They fled when it ran in
"It just shot up so fast," he said, adding later: "We feel really fortunate to have gotten off the mountain in time."
Hours later and several
miles to the east, Miriam Greenman left her home with her 6-year-old
son, Nathaniel, a handful of clothes and some of his favorite toys to
comfort him. Their fish stayed behind.
"I feel bad about the fish, but I figured he was in water and he'd have to tough it out," she said.
By Tuesday evening, their
homes had survived the blaze, but many neighbors weren't so lucky. About
70 homes and hundreds of outbuildings had burned, state and local
No injuries have been reported, but the fire danger is extreme due to wind, heat and dry conditions.
Desperate neighbors tried
to cut out containment lines with hand tools to help protect property
threatened by the fast-moving fire, while others loaded up horse
trailers to help evacuate livestock to the county fairgrounds.
Firefighters on Wednesday
focused on preventing the fire from threatening a housing development
near Cle Elum and moving into a stand of timber.
The fire that broke out
Monday at a bridge construction site is about 10 percent contained. At
least 400 homes with an estimated 900 people have been evacuated.
A blaze near the community
of Aguanga, Calif., in Riverside County had grown to about 4 1/2 square
miles just a few hours after breaking out. One person was airlifted to a
hospital for treatment of serious burns, state fire officials said. No
details on the person's identity or injuries were released.
Thirty-two homes were
evacuated and at least one two-story house was destroyed. Animal control
officials were helping homeowners remove livestock from the area,
including a dozen alpacas from a farm.
Some 40 miles away in San
Diego County, one of four lightning-sparked fires came dangerously close
to rural ranch houses. The fires burned a total of about 9 square miles
and some were expected to merge overnight, said state fire spokeswoman
But in Northern California,
crews made progress against a wildfire that threatened 500 homes in the
Spring Valley and Long Valley communities, allowing hundreds of
residents to return home.
Associated Press writers
Terry Collins in San Francisco; John Miller in Boise, Idaho; Jeff
Barnard in Grants Pass, Ore.; Brian Skoloff in Salt Lake City; Doug
Esser in Seattle; and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this
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