Dozens Evacuated as Washington Wildfire Spreads Across 300 Acres

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A wildfire north of Spokane burned nine houses and several outbuildings and forced the evacuation of the residents of as many as 50 other homes, authorities said.

The fire that had burned a half-square-mile area, said Steven M. Harris, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

"It's a long way from controlled. For a few days, those homes will be at risk," Harris said late Tuesday.

"The fire did a lot of jumping. That's one of the reasons it was difficult to suppress — it kept spotting ahead of itself," he said.

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The cause of the blaze was still under investigation but it did not appear to be from natural origins, such as lightning, Harris said, adding that the flames spread rapidly.

Evacuated residents were anxious to learn what had happened to their homes.

"I think we lost everything. I don't know," Kathy Richardson told KREM of Spokane.

One firefighter, a state prison inmate, was gashed by a chain saw but returned to the fire lines after being treated at the scene, officials said.

Elsewhere, crews in north-central Washington were battling two blazes northeast of Winthrop that had charred more than 116 square miles of national and state forest land. They were 10 percent contained, officials said.

In Idaho, 29 new lightning-started fires were reported Tuesday in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

North of Stanley, Idaho, a 2-week-old fire had blackened more than 8 square miles of forest and threatened 10 homes that had been evacuated. Crews still needed to complete 18 more miles of containment lines to encircle the blaze, officials said.

"It's a running battle mainly because it's very rugged, steep, and hard to get people in to where fire is at," David Eaker of the Great Basin National Incident Management Team said of the blaze near Stanley.

Firefighters in Southern California were battling two brush fires that had covered at least 1,000 acres, or 1.5 square miles, in Riverside County and forced the evacuation of several vacation homes. They also called for voluntary evacuations of some 40 homes.