Image: Firefighter Tyler Williams
Holly Pickett / The Spokesman-re
Department of Natural Resources firefighter Tyler Williams listens for a tanker overhead while monitoring a burn out  near Valley, Wash., on Tuesday.
updated 8/9/2006 3:55:43 PM ET 2006-08-09T19:55:43

A fast-moving wildfire burned nine structures north of Spokane and forced the evacuation of residents from as many as 50 homes, authorities said Wednesday.

The fire quickly grew to nearly three-quarters of a square mile in windy weather Tuesday, but it was not expected to spread Wednesday and firefighters had it encircled with fire breaks, said Steve Harris, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

The cause of the fire had not been established and the number of burned homes among the nine structures was unclear. Harris said some were primary residences.

“The fire did a lot of jumping. That’s one of the reasons it was difficult to suppress — it kept spotting ahead of itself,” Harris said.

One firefighter, a state prison inmate, was gashed by a chain saw but returned to the fire lines after being treated at the scene, officials said.

Many evacuated residents were anxious to learn what had happened to their homes.

“I think we lost everything. I don’t know,” Kathy Richardson told KREM Television of Spokane on Tuesday.

In north-central Washington, crews were battling two blazes northeast of Winthrop that had charred more than 116 square miles of national and state forest land. They were 10 percent contained, officials said.

New blazes in Idaho
In Idaho, 29 new lightning-sparked fires were reported Tuesday in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

North of Stanley, Idaho, a 2-week-old fire had blackened more than 8 square miles of forest and threatened 10 homes that had been evacuated. Crews still needed to complete 18 more miles of containment lines to encircle the blaze, officials said.

“It’s a running battle mainly because it’s very rugged, steep, and hard to get people in to where fire is at,” David Eaker of the Great Basin National Incident Management Team said of the blaze near Stanley.

Firefighters in Southern California contained a fire Wednesday that had burned a third of an acre in Riverside County and had threatened some 200 homes at one point.

A larger blaze in the county was 5 percent contained. The fire, which had charred 1.2 square miles, had forced the temporary evacuation of 10 vacation cottages Tuesday.

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Video: Wildfires scorch Northwest


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