August 4, 2009 in Region

Washington fire crews brace for new storms

To north, B.C. calls for more firefighters
Associated Press

YAKIMA – Fire crews across Washington continue to fight numerous fires, as they prepare for a new round of thunderstorms that could bring additional lightning.

In southeast Washington near Walla Walla, a red flag warning remains in effect, with possibilities for strong storms and lightning through the middle of the week.

The National Weather Service says there’s a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms in central Washington near Yakima beginning Wednesday and in north-central Washington’s Okanogan Valley beginning Thursday.

The state’s biggest fire has burned about 3 1/2 square miles, or 2,271 acres, in the remote forests west of Yakima. The lightning-sparked fire was 5 percent contained Tuesday.

To the north, British Columbia has called for more firefighters to protect property from wildfires, and 30 specialists from Australia and New Zealand are among those responding.

Forest Minister Pat Bell says the large number of fires is stretching resources.

The Canadian Press reports 850 personnel from across Canada are helping almost 3,000 British Columbia firefighters at hundreds of fires.

One 13-square-mile fire is threatening Lilloet where 2,300 people were forced to evacuate Sunday as winds pushed the flames within site of the town, 155 miles northeast of Vancouver.

The 29-square-mile Terrace Mountain fire has forced 2,500 people out of their homes north of Kelowna for the second time in two weeks.

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