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Jul 4, 11:30 PM EDT

2 homes burn near town as Washington wildfires grow

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Wildfires across Washington state burned through brush, forest and grassland amid 100-degree heat as the region braced for more hot weather and the onset of Fourth of July fireworks.

A fire near Springdale, northwest of Spokane, reached about 800 acres on Saturday and is uncontained, fire officials said. A total of 50 homes have been evacuated, and a Red Cross shelter has been established at a high school in Springdale to help residents.

That fire started on Friday, and its cause is under investigation. It has already burned two homes and six outbuildings and was moving northeast into industrial timberland, Department of Natural Resources spokesman Eric Keller said. Smoke could be seen for miles as steady winds blew eastward.

"Everything that we've got is going that way right now," Keller said. "We have `dozers on it, air tankers dropping on it and everything. But it's getting bigger."

A fire burned near Williams Lake, north of Colville, as high winds swept through the area. The fire had died down significantly by Friday night after reaching about 250 acres, Department of Natural Resources spokesman Brett Walker said. It held at about 280 acres by Saturday.

The flames threatened structures, but no buildings burned. The blaze was mostly in mountainous, wooded areas, Walker said.

Farther south, a 1,000-acre fire fueled by hot weather and strong winds grew to about 2,000 acres by Saturday afternoon and continued to burn between Keller and Republic, according to a news release. It sent a mushroom cloud of smoke into the air that loomed above main street in Republic.

The fire would likely grow because the wind was increasing, making the fire erratic, officials said.

In western Washington, a fire in Olympic National Park scorched about 2 square miles by Saturday morning and was 21 percent contained. Officials said they've been able to hold the fire north of the Queets River.

Meanwhile, firefighters have nearly contained the devastating fire in Wenatchee that destroyed 29 homes and blackened 4 square miles.


Information from: The Spokesman-Review,

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