SEATTLE – Thunderstorms and lightning threatened fire officials plans to contain a large blaze in central Washington state as hundreds of Washington and California residents returned home to find out whether their homes were spared.
In Idaho, authorities on Saturday issued a mandatory evacuation order for some 350 homes in the area around Featherville due to thick smoke. That town and the community of Pine, both recreation getaways in the mountains 105 miles northeast of Boise, remained in the path of a 130-square-mile wildfire that has been burning for two weeks.
Fire managers were concerned that poor visibility could hamper the evacuation process, fire spokesman David Eaker said. The smoke also prevented retardant bombers from reaching the fire.
Its a very active, very dangerous fire, fire information officer Steve Till said. Crews were prepared for it, but civilians are probably much better not being here.
The Idaho Emergency Operations Center on Saturday assigned an Idaho National Guard helicopter to fires in the southwest part of the state to be available for medical evacuations if needed. Officials said the UH-72 Lakota helicopter and seven soldiers were scheduled to be stationed in Pine as early as Monday.
The Trinity Ridge Fire burning through timber grew 15 square miles overnight. High temperatures combined with low humidity and difficult terrain made it harder for the 1,082 firefighters assigned to the blaze.