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Western wildfires: Flames plague hot, dry Washington region

Created: 07/01/2015 2:54 PM
By: By The Associated Press

New flames ignited in drought-stricken Washington state, not far from where a destructive wildfire reduced homes to rubble. Crews also are battling blazes in California and Nevada.

Here's a look at hotspots around the West:

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WASHINGTON

Just days after a wildfire tore through homes in central Washington, a new blaze in the hot, dry region has burned some buildings and forced about two dozen residents to flee.

The fire has charred more than 3 square miles of dry sagebrush and grass near the city of Quincy and destroyed five abandoned buildings or outbuildings, the Grant County sheriff's office said early Wednesday. No homes have been lost, but several are threatened, according to the fire marshal's office.

Winds whipped the flames through farmland, vineyards and some steep terrain starting late Tuesday. It's not clear what ignited it, but no injuries have been reported.

State firefighting resources helped partially contain the blaze northeast of Quincy, which is roughly 30 miles southeast of Wenatchee.

A fire in that city about 150 miles west of Seattle destroyed more than two dozen houses and several businesses and forced evacuations this week.

Investigators have ruled out natural causes, such as lightning, but they're still looking into whether the fire was set on purpose or by accident, authorities said at Wednesday news briefing.

The blaze, which began Sunday and has scorched more than 4 square miles, was the worst so far this season as the state struggles with a severe drought.

Another wildfire in central Washington burned nearly 5½ square miles of sagebrush and grass south of the small town of Mansfield, about 40 miles northeast of Wenatchee. That fire was halfway contained by Tuesday night and no longer threatened homes.

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CALIFORNIA

Firefighters made progress against wildfires burning throughout California, but weather was becoming a potential problem as a heat wave built in some regions and the threat of thunderstorms, gusty winds and lightning persisted elsewhere.

A 320-acre blaze that erupted outside the Santa Barbara County city of Lompoc on Monday and forced 1,200 people to flee was three-quarters contained and evacuations were lifted, fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

The fire broke out behind the Spanish colonial-era La Purisima Mission, but the structures in what is now a state historic park escaped damage. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

In the inland region east of Los Angeles, a 49-square-mile wildfire in the San Bernardino National Forest was more than halfway contained. Firefighters worked on hotspots, and some crews were sent to wilderness areas for three- or four-day stints to reduce travel time to and from fire lines.

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NEVADA

Firefighters declared full containment of a lightning-sparked wildfire covering almost 8 square miles of sage and grass in remote northern Nevada.

No injuries were reported, and no structures were damaged, Nevada Conservation & Natural Resources spokeswoman JoAnn Kittrell said. The fire was reported Monday on private land north of Interstate 80 about halfway between Battle Mountain and Elko.

It spared an area of fragile habitat for the imperiled sage grouse, Kittrell said.

(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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