Progress made with WA and CA fires

'Very dangerous' potential of more fires in Washington

ELLENSBURG, Wash. | August 17, 2012

Crews in Washington state and California made progress in fighting wildfires Friday but there was a "very dangerous" potential of more fires in Washington.

Firefighters battled fires that had burned at least 44,500 acres in the two states.

In Washington, the Taylor Bridge wildfire was declared 33 percent contained by late Thursday and firefighters said they hoped it would be fully under control by Sunday, The Seattle Times reported.

Firefighters said the worst wildfire in years had hit Kittitas County, where avacuees have been slowly returning to some neighborhoods .

The fire had consumed 22,000 acres.

The National Weather Service issued a fire weather warning for Friday and Saturday, predicting isolated thunderstorms and temperatures that could top 100 degrees, particularly along the Yakima River and near Ellensburg.

"The next three days are going to be very dangerous in terms of the potential for wildfire," Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said.

Fire officials estimated the cost of fighting the wildfire so far is $2.7 million, the Seattle newspaper said. The fire has destroyed 70 homes and more than 200 outbuildings.

In Riverside County, Calif., officials said a wildfire -- the Buck fire -- that burned at least 2,500 acres and forced some homes to be evacuated was 90 contained, the Los Angeles Times said.

The fire was one of more than a dozen that burned across California this week, including one in northern San Diego County, the Vallecito Lightning Complex fire. The Vallecito blaze was about 70 percent contained and had covered about 20,000 acres since it broke out Sunday.

Fires also were reported this week in San Bernardino and Kern counties and the Stanislaus National Forest, the Los Angeles Times said.

The U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday it will begin nighttime helicopter missions to fight fires in the Angeles National Forest and other federal lands in Southern California, the Los Angeles Times said. The Forest Service decision is a reversal of a prohibition imposed about 30 years ago for safety and cost reasons.

The agency said plans call for flights after dark to resume next summer, once crews have been trained and equipped.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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