Wildfire threatens Washington city

Wildfire threatens Washington city

26 July 2010

published by www.msnbc.msn.com

USA — At least three firefighters were injured and evacuations were under way as a 15-square-mile wildfire edged up Monday on the outskirts of Yakima.

The blaze, which was dubbed the Cowiche Canyon fire after it began Sunday afternoon, was about 10 miles west of Yakima early Monday afternoon. It was threatening about 150 residences in an area just west of the city where large houses stand amid irrigated orchards and dry sagebrush.

About 200 residents had evacuated, and firefighters were going door to door asking others to leave their homes.

“I took my guns, my Harley and my horses,” said Dary Reed, who evacuated with his wife from their home on Carvo Road.

Authorities initially said the fire was burning over 10,000 acres, but they revised the figure to 6,200 acres Monday afternoon after they were able to get a better look.

A fire engine was destroyed, and there were unconfirmed reports that as many as three homes burned. Three firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation.

Hundreds of firefighters from across the state had converged on the region to battle the fire, which was about 15 percent contained Monday afternoon.

“About every fire agency is represented here,” said Richard Andring, a spokesman for West Valley Fire and Rescue.

Christy Boisselle, a spokeswoman for the agency, said that the crews were making progress and that “if the weather cooperates, they’ll have much more contained today.”

Authorities said the cause of the fire remained unknown Monday. Yakima, a city of 72,000 in the hot, dry central part of Washington state, has received no rain this month, during which average high temperatures have been in the 90s.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized the use of federal funds to help fight the fire, making federal funding available to pay 75 percent of the state’s firefighting costs.

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