Firefighters keep wildfires away from evacuated Washington city



TRANSMISSION IN CORRECT CONDITION – This photo provided by the Washington State Department of Transportation shows smoke from a wildfire burning south of Lind, Wash., Thursday, August 4, 2022. Sheriff officials tell Residents of the town of Lind, in eastern Washington, to evacuate because of a growing wildfire south of town that was burning homes. (Washington State Department of Transportation via AP)


A small town in Washington state that was evacuated due to a fast-moving blaze was largely spared Friday, while in California crews made progress against the deadliest and largest wildfire in the year.

Adams County Sheriff Dale Wagner said the fire that threatened the town of Lind in eastern Washington was brought under control after burning six homes and eight other structures. He said firefighters were monitoring hot spots.

The sheriff’s office had told residents of Lind to evacuate Thursday afternoon because of the encroaching flames. With the help of state and local resources, the fire began to die down and at 8 p.m. Thursday all evacuation orders were lifted for the community of approximately 500 people about 121 kilometers southwest of Spokane.

Wagner said Friday that a firefighter who inhaled smoke and was airlifted to Spokane for treatment was released and is recovering at home.

State officials said Friday that Washington is experiencing its worst fire activity of the year between the Lind fire and several others that broke out this week, the Seattle Times reported.

With rising temperatures and forecasted thunderstorms, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better, Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz and Washington State Department of Natural Resources officials said during a briefing. ‘a press conference.

Meanwhile, in California, fire crews were working Friday morning amid thunderstorms that brought light rainfall as well as the possibility of dry lightning that could ignite new fires.

According to Mike Lindbery, spokesman for the McKinney Fire in California’s Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border, a separate group of area firefighters have been put on standby to jump on any new fires.

The Smokey Fire, which ignited on Thursday, was one such new fire. Crews have limited it to 34 acres (13.76 hectares) and hope to contain it within a day or two, Lindbery said.

Forecasters have also warned that temperature spikes and falling humidity levels could create the conditions for further growth in wildfires.

California and much of the rest of the West are experiencing drought and wildfire danger is high, with the worst fire season yet to come. Fires are burning across the region.

After five days without containment, the nearly 60,000-acre (24,000-hectare) McKinney Fire remained 10% surrounded on Friday. Bulldozers and manual crews were advancing, cutting firebreaks around much of the rest of the blaze, fire officials said.

At the southeast corner of the blaze, evacuation orders for sections of Yreka, home to around 7,800 people, have been downgraded to warnings, allowing residents to return home but with a caveat that the situation remained dangerous.

About 1,300 people remain under evacuation orders, officials said at a community meeting Wednesday evening.

The fire didn’t make much headway by midweek, after several days of brief but heavy rain from thunderstorms that provided cloudy, wet weather. But as clouds dissipate and humidity levels drop in the coming days, the fire could roar again, authorities have warned.

“It’s a sleeping giant right now,” said Darryl Laws, a unified incident commander on the fire.

Weekend temperatures could hit triple digits as the region dries out again, said meteorologist Brian Nieuwenhuis of the National Weather Service office in Medford, Oregon.

The fire broke out on July 29 and charred nearly 92 square miles (238 square kilometers) of forest land, left dry by drought. More than 100 homes and other buildings burned and four bodies were found, including two in a burnt-out car in a driveway.

The fire was initially fueled by high winds ahead of a storm cell. More storms earlier this week proved a mixed blessing. Driving rain on Tuesday dumped up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) on some eastern sections of the fire, but most of the fire area received virtually nothing, said fire analyst Dennis Burns. fire behavior.

The latest storm has also raised concerns about possible river flooding and landslides. A private contractor in a van helping to fight the fires was injured when a bridge gave way and swept away the vehicle, Kreider said. The contractor’s injuries were not life threatening.

Progress against the blazes has come too late for many people in the picturesque hamlet of Klamath River, which was home to around 200 people before the blaze reduced many homes to ashes, as well as the post office, community center and other buildings.

Scientists say climate change has made the West hotter and drier over the past three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. California has seen its largest, most destructive and deadliest wildfires in the past five years.

As of Friday, Idaho’s Moose Fire had burned more than 105 square miles (273 square kilometers) in the Salmon-Challis National Forest near the town of Salmon. Steep terrain and extremely dry fuel conditions continued to pose challenges for firefighters, but officials said firefighters hoped to expand and reinforce containment lines with more favorable weather forecasts in the coming days.


Associated Press reporters Christopher Weber in Los Angeles, Haven Daley in Klamath River, Calif., and Lisa Baumann in Seattle contributed to this report.


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