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HI, WA wildfires threaten homes

Residents from communities in Hawaii and Washington remain evacuated Thursday.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | August 4, 2005

Residents from communities in Hawaii and Washington remained evacuated Thursday as wildfires continue to burn nearby.

In Waikoloa, Hawaii, officials ordered more than 5,000 people to evacuate as a brush fire threatened their homes and the only road leading into the town. No injuries or lost structures have been reported yet.

The 25,000-acre Lalamilo wildfire is 70% contained, but reports show that it is still quickly spreading. The fire started Monday and the cause is under investigation.

In Washington state, the residents of more than 75 homes are still unable to return to their neighborhood due to a nearby raging wildfire.

The 965-acre Dirtyface wildfire - named for the mountain where it's burning - is still threatening more than 170 homes. It is now 30% contained, but one home has already been burnt. More than 100 residences are on stand-by to evacuate should the fire make a run for the community again.

City and fire officials held a town meeting Wednesday night to keep residents updated on the situation.

The blaze started Monday and quickly spread toward the mountain community in the Wenatchee National Forest. Tuesday and Wednesday's weather did help firefighters gain some ground on the challenging fire, though.

"They're doing pretty good because the winds are slowing down," said Jeree Mills, public affairs officer for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. "That kept the fire from being erratic yesterday."

No date of full containment has been set for the blaze yet. The terrain in the area is very treacherous, added Mills, which makes the fight even more challenging. "It's really steep and it's also a very dense forest. They're doing a lot of air attacks with tankers and they've got eight helicopters working on it." Wednesday's weather is not expected to help the firefighters either, as high temperatures and low humidity is predicted for the area.

In the meantime, evacuees are being sheltered at a middle school in Leavenworth, about 25 miles southeast of the wildfire.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


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