By Shannon Dininny Associated Press
WENATCHEE — More homes were evacuated Tuesday as firefighters continued to battle dozens of wildfires across Eastern Washington.
Fifty-four homes were evacuated along Mission Creek Road near Cashmere, in front of a wildfire that has burned about 300 acres.
Fire spokeswoman Connie Mehmel said the Cashmere fire was burning near other fires west of Wenatchee, but they were not expected to merge. Wildfires also have closed numerous trails in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest, she said.
Another blaze north of Entiat forced the evacuation of 19 homes. And more than 150 homes have been evacuated from the area of the Wenatchee fire, which covers 1,000 acres. The homes sit in a dead-end road in a steep, winding canyon.
A Sept. 8 lightning storm is being blamed for starting more than 100 fires in the region. More than 300 homes were under varying levels of evacuation, ranging from be ready to evacuate to “leave now,” because of fires near Wenatchee.
Firefighting resources are stretched in the area because of the number of fires and because college students who work as firefighters during the summer have gone back to school, the Wenatchee World reported.
A woman fell and injured her leg while trying to extinguish small spot fires near her home Monday, Douglas County Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal told the newspaper. He said the woman had left her house but returned when the fire threat decreased.
Douglas County Emergency Management told KREM-TV a wildfire destroyed a ranch home near Grand Coulee.
Meanwhile, a fire southwest of Creston grew to 18,000 acres, and one firefighter there suffered a minor injury. No homes were lost, but several outbuildings were believed to have burned.
No communities were threatened by blazes in Yakima or Kittitas counties, but firefighters continued to try to contain 28 fires that were sparked by lightning there.
Ed Delgado, predictive services meteorologist for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said rising temperatures are more of a problem for firefighters than the wind that has swirled across Eastern Washington for the past two days.
High temperatures, lower humidity and greater instability increase the potential for fires to grow.
“Our biggest concern right now is existing fires,” Delgado said. “We’re not expecting lightning over the next few days, although that doesn’t alleviate the potential for human-caused fires, especially as we get into camping and hunting seasons.”