Washington Wildfire Threatens Scores of Homes

A rampaging 2,000-acre wildfire prompted the evacuation Monday of as many as 700 people on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (search) in eastern Arizona, authorities said.

An Indian Health Service hospital was among the buildings evacuated. Only a crew of eight was left to staff an emergency room. Officials said more evacuations were possible.

The evacuation was ordered Monday afternoon after the blaze crossed a trigger point near two subdivisions 5 miles north of Whiteriver, said Chadeen Palmer, a spokeswoman for the crew fighting the fire.

The fire was burning out of control Monday evening. It had been sparked by lightning Sunday in juniper and ponderosa pines east of an area burned by last summer's huge Rodeo-Chediski fire (search).

The Rodeo-Chediski fire burned 469,000 acres, destroyed 491 homes and forced 30,000 people from their homes. On the reservation, the fire charred sacred Apache sites and damaged the White Mountain Apache Tribe's timber industry, which provides 60 percent of the tribe's income.

Elsewhere Monday, a fire burning on densely timbered slopes near Yakima (search) in south-central Washington was holding steady at about 2,000 acres.

Residents who had to leave 20 homes Friday, the day the fire began, were allowed to return. But officials said residents of another 150 homes remained on notice that they might have to evacuate.

In western Wyoming, a 23-mile section of U.S. 26-89, a heavily traveled route to Jackson Hole, was reopened Monday after smoke from a wildfire lifted.

The route through the Snake River Canyon (search) was closed during the weekend because of an 1,100-acre wildfire that erupted Saturday between Alpine and Hoback Junction.

Nearby Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks were not affected but officials closed three Bridger-Teton National Forest campgrounds and suspended fishing and rafting on the Snake River between Hoback Junction and Alpine because of smoke.

In southern Arizona, a fire that destroyed more than 300 homes and cabins on Mount Lemmon in mid-June was declared 90 percent contained Monday. It had blackened 84,750 acres and crews expected to have it fully contained on Tuesday.

A day-old fire in Montana, about 10 to 15 miles east of Helena, forced the evacuation of a rural subdivision and had blackened 700 acres by Monday.

Nine residents of about 17 homes in the subdivision near the small town of York were still waiting to return Monday, officials said. York had no electricity and service was not likely to be restored for a few days, said Lewis and Clark County emergency services coordinator Paul Spengler.

About 20 miles east of Eugene, Ore., two campgrounds were evacuated because of a 500-acre blaze in the Willamette National Forest, said David Widmark of the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. The fire, which started Sunday, also threatened five homes in the area but they had not yet been evacuated.

Fires also were active in Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico and Utah, the National Interagency Fire Center reported. So far this year, wildfires have blackened just over 1 million acres, compared to 3.2 million at this same time last year, the center said Monday.