Another five-fire Washington blaze called the Chelan Complex had reached almost 70,000 acres on the eastern edge of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and was only about 50 percent contained, commanders said late Wednesday afternoon.
More than 70 structures have already been destroyed in the Chelan Complex, which had reached almost 70,000 acres and was only about 50 percent contained, commanders said late Wednesday afternoon.
"We're really concerned about that weather," Kale Casey, a spokesman for the joint incident team at the scene, told NBC station KING of Seattle.
"We've had no break in the hot, dry weather," Casey said. "We're going to see probably some impressive fire behavior in the next couple days."
Three separate multi-fire complexes were scorching more than 163,000 acres in and around Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Northern California, the state and federal joint incident command said Wednesday on the third straight day of 100-degree-plus temperatures and very low humidity.
The six-fire, 22,367-acre South Complex in Trinity County, meanwhile, was reported 40 percent contained. All national forestlands within the fire areas were closed, the National Forest System said.
The incident command agency said efforts to contain the fires were being seriously hampered by daily temperature inversions — in which thick hot smoke soars into the sky as cool morning air burns off. The towering plumes of smoke have grounded all aerial assets except for one plane that's being sent up with an infrared camera to see through the smoke and send information to commanders on the ground.
Oregon's biggest problem was the 48,201-acre Canyon Creek Complex of fires in Grant County, which was burning out of control Wednesday. So far, 36 homes and 50 other structures have been destroyed or damaged, and at least 500 other structures are threatened.
For the first time ever, state officials banned all burning on state-run land across Oregon — including candles.
"It's devastating. You really don't have a lot of time to think about it," Eva Harris of Canyon City told NBC station KTVZ of Bend.
"I helped one of my neighbors evacuate, and I was so glad that they were safe," Harris said. "And then I still had to go up and see my own place. I lost two of the outbuildings — and that's just OK, because I still have a home."
The Defense Department said Tuesday that it will mobilize 200 active-duty service members to help fight the fires, the first time it has taken that step in nearly a decade.
The biggest fire of all is the Soda fire, which has eaten up 283,686 acres straddling the eastern Oregon and western Idaho borders. But it's now 95 percent contained, with crews turning to mop-up duty, incident commanders said.
Of more concern are the dozens of smaller but still sizable fires burning through hundreds of thousands of acres of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Among the most serious:
- The Cornet-Windy Ridge fire south of Baker City, at 103,540 acres and 45 percent containment.
- The County Line 2 fire on Warm Springs Indian Reservation, at 62,696 acres and 43 percent containment. Commanders said a red flag warning for hot, dry air could create what they called "critical fire behavior."
- The Stouts Creek fire south of Milo, at 25,324 acres and 74 percent containment. The fire, which was caused by someone illegally mowing during prohibited hours on July 30, has forced the closing of all public lands in Douglas County administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management.
- The North Star fire 25 miles north of Coulee Dam, at 45,632 acres and burning out of control. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for residents north of the town of Nespelem, from Gold Lake Road to Stepstone Road.
- The Wolverine fire three miles northwest of Lucerne, at 40,357 acres and 30 percent containment. The villages of Holden, Stehekin and 25-Mile were described as under threat.
- The four-fire Kettle Complex in northern Ferry County, at 39,570 acres with no report of containment. Parts of Colville National Forest Area are closed and Washington National Guard troops are on the scene, where hot, dry weather is expected fuel the fire into Thursday.
Idaho The Clearwater Complex near Kamiah, 64,150 acres and 25 percent containment. Forty-two homes have been destroyed so far, commanders said.
Source : NBCNEWS