Firefighters Struggle With Wash. Wildfires

A forecast for more warm weather Monday had firefighters strengthening their lines around a 49,000-acre wildfire, the largest in the lower 48 states.

The fire in southeastern Washington has destroyed more than 100 homes about 15 miles south of Pomeroy (search) and was only 65 percent contained Sunday.

Firefighters concentrated on the south end, where thicker timber and heavier logs, fallen branches and other debris slowed their work.

A low pressure system is forecast for Tuesday.

"Hopefully that will cool things down a bit," said Lori Hammer (search), an information officer at a fire camp about 15 miles north of the fire.

Darcy Brenner was out of town when the wildfire began. She returned home two days later to find nothing left but a cement foundation and twisted metal.

"It wasn't just a house, it was a life," Brenner said Sunday of the home her father and grandfather had built. "It was my life."

In Idaho, fire officials were still investigating the origins of a human-caused blaze that had burned more than 4,000 acres. Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (search) declared a disaster emergency for Idaho County, where that fire and three others were burning.

"I hope I never see fire again," said Sandra Nelson, while eating breakfast at Grangeville's Camas Cafe with her husband, Jeff.

In western Montana, crews fighting an 11,000-acre blaze near Alberton were helped by cool, moist weather. That fire, which began as two separate blazes along Interstate 90, was about 50 percent contained Sunday and could be fully contained by Monday, fire information officer Trish Hogervorst said.

"We are sending crews to other fires now that need it more," Hogervorst said.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center (search), 30 large fires totaling 266,652 acres were burning Sunday, mostly in Western states. So far this year, wildfires have charred 5.85 million acres nationwide, compared with 5.88 million acres at the same time last year.