August 27, 2010 in City

Cooler weather helps control Washington wildfires

Staff and wire reports

Cooler temperatures and calmer winds today helped firefighters control wildfires that flared up across Eastern Washington in Thursday’s hot, gusty winds.

In the Stevens County town of Arden, north of Spokane, Fire Chief Joe Paccerelli said the wildfire that burned two homes died down overnight and no more structures were lost. With the arrival of fresh state firefighters today, the chief said about 100 people would be at the scene.

Residents who had been evacuated were being allowed to return to their homes. A fire trail had been built around the fire, but officials said it was too early to call the fire contained.

Additional firefighters from across the Pacific Northwest were expected to arrive at the fire near Arden, which is being called the Slide Creek fire. That fire had grown by about 50 acres to 950 acres overnight.

In a news release, the state Department of Natural Resources said it had dispatched 350 employees overnight to fight more than a dozen wildfires burning in Eastern Washington. “DNR’s seasonal firefighters and the permanent DNR employees, who take on fire duties each summer, are supplemented by staff from federal agencies and the Oregon Department of Forestry as well as local fire districts.” the news release said.

A fire near Curlew Lake in Ferry County also had been surrounded by a fire trail after expanding to about 630 acres, a Washington Department of Natural Resources spokesman said.

No one was injured in the Slide Creek fire that started when a tree blew down on a power line.

Firefighters are also trying to put out wildfires near Lyle in Klickitat County, Dayton in Columbia County, Fairfield in Spokane County and Pullman in Whitman County.

In Klickitat County, the 1,400 acre fire has 100 residences evacuated, according to a DNR release. The fire is burning mostly grassy terrain. The Red Cross has a shelter set up at the Lyle Lions Club, located at 5th Street and State Highway 14.

In Columbia County, an 11,000 acre fire is about 15 percent contained, according to the DNR.

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