Progress made in fighting Northwest wildfires

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WENATCHEE (AP) — Firefighters today were making progress against two big wildfires burning near Wenatchee and Goldendale in Eastern Washington.

The regional fire danger remains high through Thursday, however, with the threat of lightning strikes from thunderstorms.

Northeast of Goldendale, firefighters completed a line around the blaze that burned about 35 square miles around Satus Pass. Spokesman Dam Omdal says more than 1,300 firefighters are mopping up hot spots and strengthening the lines. Evacuations have been lifted. Highway 97 remains closed between Goldendale and Toppenish.

At the 93-square mile fire south of Wenatchee, spokeswoman Linden Lampman says fire retardant drops Tuesday and about 80 hot shot firefighters working overnight prevented the fire from spreading south into Kittitas County where some residents have been evacuated. Nearly 400 firefighters are on the scene.

The Colockum Tarps Fire has burned across more than 92 square miles of grass, sagebrush and timber southeast of Wenatchee in the Colockum. In southwest Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber has declared a state of emergency for Josephine and Douglas counties as firefighters tackle the Douglas Complex wildfires.

State officials said Tuesday the declaration authorizes the National Guard to assist firefighting efforts.

No structures have been destroyed by the lightning-sparked blazes, but about 400 homes in southwest Oregon are threatened. More than 100 have received evacuation notices.

Other major fires in southwest Oregon are the Whiskey Complex wildfires, on the Umpqua National Forest east of Tiller, and the Labrador Fire, burning near the Illinois River community of Oak Flat.

The 1.5-square-mile Labrador Fire is burning in the footprint of 2002’s Biscuit Fire, which at the time was the largest Oregon wildfire since the 1800s.

“Fire danger and fire behavior indicators are at record levels, with more than two months of fire season left. This is clearly shaping up as a very tough summer,” State Forester Doug Decker said in a news release.

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