Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stuck in a Waiting Game with Fires; Crews Battle Blazes That Threaten Homes, Towns in Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stuck in a Waiting Game with Fires; Crews Battle Blazes That Threaten Homes, Towns in Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada

Article excerpt

YAKIMA, Wash. - Hundreds of people forced to flee a large central Washington fire waited for word Thursday on when they might be able to return, while firefighters in rural Idaho protected two threatened towns and thousands of crew members worked wildfires across California.

The Taylor Bridge Fire, about 75 miles east of Seattle, has burned across an estimated 22,000 acres, roughly 35 square miles, of diverse terrain - ranging from dry grasses to sagebrush and thick timber.

The blaze was 25 percent contained Thursday morning, and fire management officers were working with local authorities to determine if some of the hundreds of evacuated residents could return home.

The fire started Monday at a bridge construction site. Officials have said at least 70 homes have burned. About 840 firefighters have been assigned to the fire.

Fire spokesman Mark Grassel said crews were strengthening lines at the fire's stubborn north flank where it has burned into thick stands of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir.

Laurie Plut said she doesn't feel out of danger yet. The fire has been right at the timber line for two days, just beyond the wood cabin she and her husband have been building over the past 12 years in a collection of 40 lots, all but five of them vacation cabins.

"We're still worried. It's extremely frustrating, but the firefighters have been working hard," she said by telephone. "And we have to love them."

In Idaho, crews fighting 12 big fires hoped to take advantage of a brief break from extreme heat and strong winds to protect threatened homes and build lines around fire perimeters.

The advance of the Trinity Ridge Fire toward the small communities of Pine and Featherville stalled Wednesday, giving residents more time to protect their homes and cabins and prepare for a possible evacuation.

The blaze started two weeks ago in the Boise National Forest and has scorched more than 108 square miles.

"Yesterday was more of a defensive mode for fire crews with the focus on protecting structures," said Dave Olson, spokesman for the Boise National Forest. …

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