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TWISP, Wash. – The latest on wildfires in Washington state, including those that killed three firefighters (all times local):
A series of wildfires in north-central Washington that left three firefighters dead grew by more than 100 square miles, but officials hope easing winds forecast for Saturday will allow them to gain the upper hand.
The Okanogan Complex of wildfires was measured at 355 square miles Saturday, about 100 miles larger than the day before, after making some big runs Friday, fire spokesman Rick Isaacson said.
Thousands of people remained under evacuation orders as strong winds drove flames across parched ground. Resources were so strained that Saturday, fire officials planned to provide basic fire training to about 200 volunteers who have machinery like backhoes and bulldozers so they can use them to help dig fire lines.
The overall situation was too chaotic to even track how many homes had burned — though officials hoped to make progress on that front Saturday.
"We can say we know structures have been lost, but we have no count," Isaacson said.
Three firefighters — Tom Zbyszewski, Richard Wheeler and Andrew Zajac — died Wednesday when flames consumed their crashed vehicle as they tried to escape this fire. Four others were injured in the canyon, one critically.