USA –– WENATCHEE, Wash. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire says she will extend an emergency order for all counties east of the Cascades due to the ongoing threat from wildfires.
The order ensures continued air support from the Washington National Guard to help fight wildfires and extends a burn ban through Monday, Sept. 24.
Gregoire announced the move Tuesday while visiting the community of Liberty, where she urged residents who have been asked to evacuate to leave their homes.
Hundreds of residents have been asked to evacuate their homes in central Washington, and more than 4,000 firefighters are battling the blazes.
Gregoire also extended condolences to the friends and family of a contract worker who died after falling ill while helping battle a blaze north of Wenatchee. Authorities said the timber faller died Monday evening.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
A firefighter has died after falling ill while helping battle a blaze north of Wenatchee, officials said Tuesday, as crews struggled to contain dozens of wildfires throughout the state of Washington.
The timber faller working north of Entiat became ill on the fire line Monday afternoon and was transported to a hospital, where he died later that evening, authorities said.
His name was not released and no further details were provided on the cause of death.
He was among more than 4,000 firefighters battling blazes that were sparked by lightning earlier this month in central Washington. The fires were burning on more than 88 square miles of dry timber, grass and sagebrush.
Weak winds and stagnant conditions that have allowed smoke to hover over much of the region and impair air quality were expected to continue for several days. Hazardous air quality warnings were issued for Ellensburg and Wenatchee, where residents were advised to remain indoors, limit physical activity and close doors and windows.
Near the rural town of Liberty, about 25 miles northwest of Ellensburg, Gov. Chris Gregoire planned to visit residents and attend a community meeting Tuesday to reiterate evacuation warnings. The road leading to the town is one of several closed in the area.
Residents of about 130 homes have been ordered to evacuate in Kittitas County, though many have declined to leave their homes. Fires in the area have burned more than 6,000 acres, or more than 9 square miles, and were just 4 percent contained.
Near Wenatchee, a complex of several fires continued to threaten as many as 800 homes. Those fires have blackened nearly 55 square miles and were 22 percent contained.
Elsewhere on Tuesday:
-A cluster of fires in Yakima County and part of Kittitas County was 15 percent contained at 2,198 acres. Nearly 700 firefighters were assigned to those blazes.
-Nearly 500 firefighters worked to contain the Okanogan Complex of wildfires in Okanogan County, where about 60 homes were threatened. The fires have burned 4,711 acres, or about 7 square miles, and were 18 percent contained.
– The Cascade Creek Fire in Klickitat County covered 6,853 acres and was 10 percent contained.