Image: White Swan Fire
Sara Gettys  /  The Yakima Herald-Republic via AP
A house burns on Second Street in the eastern Washington town of White Swan on Saturday. staff and news service reports
updated 2/13/2011 2:42:53 PM ET 2011-02-13T19:42:53

Firefighters from several Yakima Valley departments have contained a roof fire that spread to the ground Saturday damaging or destroying 20 homes, officials said. 

The fire apparently started in one house and then spread in the unincorporated town of White Swan in south-central central Washington state with the help of 40 mph winds.

Early Sunday, Yakima County District 5 Fire Chief Brian Vogel told The Associated Press that the wild land fires had been controlled, but thousands of logs on log decks at one of the mills were still burning.

No residents were hurt but two firefighters were treated for minor injuries, Sgt. George Town of the Yakima County Sheriff's Office told The Associated Press.

Some residents voluntarily evacuated and took shelter at the town's ceremonial long house and high school.

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Rural roads leading to the town, located about 35 miles southwest of Yakima, were blocked off due to the danger posed by the fire, the Yakima County Sheriff's dispatch office said shortly before midnight Saturday.

The Yakima Herald-Republic said officials of the Yakima Nation Tribal reported that 20 homes had been consumed by the flames.

Town said about 70 firefighters fought the blaze, which was being fueled by high winds that were expected to keep up through the night.

"We were hoping for relief from Mother Nature but it doesn't look like it right now," said Town, the department's search and rescue coordinator.

'Hazardous, dangerous situation'
The fires spread to trees and power lines, and the Herald-Republic reported that electrical power was out. The only light that could be seen was from the flames of the structures and a log stack at a nearby wood-chipping plant that had ignited, the paper said, noting that the blaze was visible miles away.

"There are a lot of spot fires. We have a hazardous, dangerous situation here," Harry Smiskin, chairman of the Yakama Nation Tribal Council, told the newspaper.

East Valley Fire Chief George Spencer said firefighters were keeping the flames from reaching the east side of Curtis Street, which bisects White Swan north to south.

Spencer told KNDO that crews were remaining on the scene overnight.

One of the homes destroyed was owned by Rodney Martin.

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"I got out front and tried to water the front of the house, and it overtook me," the 45-year-old Martin told the Herald-Republic."I think we have enough resources to keep up with it," he said.

One of the homes destroyed was owned by Rodney Martin.

"I saw the fire across the street. I ran to see it," the 45-year-old told the paper. "It came so fast."

He told the paper that he tried to wet his home with a hose to help protect it, but the blaze proved too fast.

"It overtook me," Martin told the paper.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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