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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

September 6, 2012 at 8:19 AM

Residents flee Columbia River Gorge wildfire

The Associated Press

WHITE SALMON, Wash. — Residents of a few more houses were told to evacuate early Thursday as a wildfire threatens homes and cabins in the Columbia River Gorge, a spokesman for firefighters said.

Residents of about 30 homes have been told to get out for their safety, said Stan Hinatsu of the U.S. Forest Service. A total of about 450 houses are threatened by the fire. Most of those people have been told to be ready to flee if the fire heads their way.

An evacuation center has been set up at the White Salmon fire hall.

No homes have been lost, and no injuries are reported.

The fire broke out Wednesday afternoon and has burned about 1,500 acres, or more than 2 square miles of trees and grassy areas.

The fire started in multiple spots along Highway 141 about five miles northwest of White Salmon, which is about 60 miles east of Vancouver. The exact cause has not been determined, but it’s not necessarily suspicious.

“Obviously it’s human caused in some way,” Hinatsu said. “It could have been the wheel from a flat tire throwing off sparks.”

About 150 firefighters are on the scene with more arriving Thursday as state mobilization brings in additional resources, including helicopters or air tankers. An incident management team setting up a command center at the Port of Klickitat in Bingen, Hinatsu said.

Fire officials are concerned the fire could spread rapidly.

“It’s pretty smoky. Still a lot of heat. Still the potential the fire could be very active today with the dry weather,” Hinatsu said. “It wouldn’t take a whole lot for this thing to get up and go.”

Some firefighters worked into the night with hand tools and bulldozers on fire lines in hilly terrain, state Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Debbie Robinson said late Wednesday.

Last month, the Taylor Bridge Fire east of Cle Elum in central Washington burned more than 36 square miles, or 23,500 acres. Authorities said 61 homes and 35 outbuildings were destroyed. That fire was declared completely contained at the end of August

Comments | More in General news | Topics: houses threatened, White Salmon, wildfire

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