Homes Destroyed As NW Fire Season Lives Up To Forecasts

By Jessica Robinson

A fire that started Saturday morning near Wenatchee, Wash., is now burning more than 30 square miles in rugged terrain. Five homes have been consumed in the blaze and the residents in another 60 are being told to evacuate. It's one of nearly two-dozen major fires now burning across the Northwest.

Forecasters predicted a higher-than-normal fire season this year in parts of the region, and so far it's right on target.

In southern Oregon, Governor John Kitzhaber authorized bringing in structural firefighters to protect homes threatened by a large complex of fires.

In southcentral Washington, the Klickitat County Sheriff has instructed residents in the path of a fire near Goldendale to pack up their valuables, their family heirlooms and prepare to find lodging.

Several forest fires in Idaho have reached 10,000 acres, including the Lodgepole Fire near Challis. Pete Nelson owns a charter flight business in Challis that takes tourists into the backcountry. But for the last several years he's had to scale back because of the fires.

Pete Nelson: “For those businesses like myself that it affects negatively, we're getting pretty weary of it.”

Fire officials are asking people to be careful about their lawn mowers, campfires and cigarettes – as well as what they might be dragging from their vehicles. A truck dragging chain link fencing near Boise ignited 19 small fires over the weekend.

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