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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Three large wildfires burn across Central, Eastern Washington

A hot, dry week across Central and Eastern Washington ended with at least three large wildfires requiring state assistance.

In Grant County, the Black Rock fire started around noon Saturday and burned more than 23,000 acres north of Moses Lake.

State firefighters began fighting the Black Rock fire Sunday afternoon, assisting Grant County Fire District 12, the State Fire Marshal’s Office said in a news release. The fire is near the town of Wilson Creek.

The blaze has burned about 23,600 acres and was about 40 percent contained Sunday afternoon, according to the Northeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team.

No evacuation orders were in place, but the fire was threatening 25 homes, as well as crops, livestock and sage grouse habitat, the release said.

A command post has been set up at Odessa High School, and members of the school’s Future Business Leaders of America chapter made dinner and breakfast for firefighters, Odessa resident Gina Schlomer said.

A 1,000-acre fire near Prosser also prompted state aid. According to a news release from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the South Ward Gap fire started Sunday and was threatening homes, crops, power lines and natural resources.

A third wildfire in Columbia County, near Dayton, Washington, was mostly contained after initially threatening 125 homes.

The North Touchet fire started Saturday around 5 p.m., the State Fire Marshal’s Office said in a release.

It was initially estimated to be 700 acres, the release said, but Columbia County Fire District 3 spokesman Dwight Robanske said Sunday the size was closer to 550 acres. He said the fire was about 80 percent contained as of Sunday morning.

As of Saturday night, 25 nearby homes were under Level 3 evacuation orders, meaning they were told to leave the area immediately. One hundred homes were under a Level 1 evacuation, meaning residents were notified that they may need to evacuate.

Robanske said about 15 homes were still threatened by the fire, but residents have been allowed to return home. Threatened homes remain under Level 1 evacuation.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin reported investigators believe it may have started when a resident cutting brush hit a rock, causing a spark.

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