Wildfires raging across the western states of the United States have destroyed dozens of homes and scorched thousands of acres of land.
Firefighters in central Washington state fought a wildfire yesterday that has destroyed at least 60 homes and burned over 20 thousand acres between two national forests east of the capital, Olympia.
The wildfires forced hundreds of people to flee – one of several blazes scorching the Western US, threatening communities, sending up thick plumes of smoke and disrupting activity in national parks.
On Sunday, a 20-year-old firefighter was killed by a falling tree in Idaho. Another woman has died near Orofino while combating a blaze. It was her second season as a firefighter. A federal investigation was launched on Tuesday to establish what happened.
Wildfires blaze across West, burning homes / more than 400 residents evacuated in Washington
The wildfire near the town of Cle Elum, in central Washington state, has prompted the evacuation of more than 400 people, although no injuries have been reported. Fire officials said it came within 6 miles of the town of Ellenburg.
Crews barely managed to outrun the fast-moving fire in Washington, which began at a bridge construction site and has not been contained. Police say the current wind and heat are making it harder for firefighters to bring the blaze under control.
Some land at a nearby chimpanzee sanctuary has been damaged in the huge fire, and a spokeswoman said the chimps seemed disoriented by the smoke.
In Utah, a fire sparked by lightning covered around 21,800 acres, threatened a herd of wild horses and forced the closure of the historic Pony Express Road that runs through the state’s western desert.
Authorities suspect the Washington state fire began at a construction site east of Cle Elum, about 75 milessoutheast of Seattle.
Wildfires have consumed roughly 2,4 million hectares / Washington Wildfire News
With strong winds expected to pick up Tuesday afternoon and no rain in the area for three weeks, more damage is likely, said Bryan Flint, spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources.
The fire is likely to spread to the north, where it could reach the Wenatchee National Forest within ten miles, and to the east, which is mostly farmland. South of the fire is the Snoqualmie National Forest.
In northern California, over 1,100 firefighters spent a 3rd day attacking a pair of wildfires that have destroyed 2 homes in Lake County’s Spring Valley area and charred some 7 thousand acres.
Firefighters had contained only 30 % of the 2 blazes burning dry brush in remote Lake and Colusa counties, said Daniel Berlant, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman. They did not expect full containment for a week.
But firefighters made enough progress attacking one of the wildfires that authorities lifted an evacuation order for 480 homes in the Spring Valley area on Monday night.
A handful of other fires in hot and dry Southern California were sparked by lightning. Four in northeastern San Diego County covered more than 2,300 acres, threatening to leave several communities without power.