It may sound hard to believe, but after more than a month of burning, wildfires in the northwest are getting worse.
It may sound hard to believe, but after more than a month of burning, wildfires in the northwest are getting worse.
It may sound hard to believe, but after more than a month of burning, wildfires in the northwest are getting worse.
It may sound hard to believe, but after more than a month of burning, wildfires in the northwest are getting worse.
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Western United States Fires Are Getting Worse

Western United States Fires Are Getting Worse 

By: Erich R. Ebel 
8/11/2000


It may sound hard to believe, but after more than a month of burning, wildfires in the northwest are getting worse.

It may sound hard to believe, but after more than a month of burning, wildfires in the northwest are getting worse.
The fire in the Bitterroot Valley has grown to 104-thousand acres and is threating to force the evacuation of the town of Darby, Montana.  Firefighters are having to deal with huge, swirling tornadoes of flame turning trees into ash.  The situation was made worse last night when a storm system brought wind and dry lightning to the area, but no rain.  The firestorm has already forced one thousand people to flee and destroyed up to 50-homes.  Montana has turned into a literal fireball, with more than 20-seperate fires burning.  Things are so bad, fire bosses have pulled crews off of raging fires and moved them to other fires that are threatening homes.  Students in the Montana University System are being offered 3-week extension on registration deadlines if they help fight the blazes.  Conditions in the Bitterroot Valley are so extreme, one fire manager said even moss-covered rocks would burn.
In Idaho, lightning strikes started at least 29 new fires.  Stretched thin, crews have been only able to respond to three of them.  The largest fire in the country remains the Clear Creek fire which has burning for more than a month.  Firefighters are still trying to keep it from overtaking the water supply for the town of Salmon.
There are nearly 37-hundred firefighters battling blazes in the state.  And more help is on the way.  Today elite Australian and New Zealand firefighters arrived in Boise, Idaho.  The troops will be sent to fires throughout Idaho and Montana.  Troops from California and Canada are also on scene.
Here in Washington State, 500 members of the Army National Guard prepared to hit the fire lines.  Governor Gary Locke called the guard into action because of the high fire danger in the state and the shortage of trained firefighters.  Men and women left Fort Lewis today for the Yakima Training Center.
They'll be trained over the weekend and deployed next week.  "We should be able to go out and help and try to stop these fires before they get any bigger and before people's lives and property come up on line.  To be able to come in on a moment's notice, like we do, and help out, it's a source of pride.  We're happy to help."  Up to 350-guard members will come from Spokane's 161st Infantry Division.  And they'll be needed.
Here in Washington, dry lightning sparked fires in Douglas, Grant, Yakima and Spokane counties.  Most of them were quickly controlled, but in south central Washington, lightning started six seperate wildfires between Bickleton and Alderdale.  The fires then merged into two larger blazes and have already burned 35-hundred acres.  Fire crews have established fire lines around 20-percent of the blaze, dubbed the Sixprong fire, and are fighting to keep it from destroying up to 30-homes and structures.  Many of the firefighters battling this blaze came from the nearby Wood Gulch fire, which was 100-percent contained yesterday.
Near Coulee Dam, crews have fire lines built around 60-percent of the Buffalo Lake fire.  That blaze has now burned more than 85-hundred acres on the Colville Indian Reservation.  There are more than 800-firefighters battling this blaze including two Washington National Guard helicopters from here in Spokane.
Thankfully, the threat of more lightning strikes has passed.



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