updated 8/15/2005 1:28:30 AM ET 2005-08-15T05:28:30

Darcy Brenner was out of town when the wildfire began. She returned home two days later to find nothing left but a cement foundation and twisted metal.

“It wasn’t just a house, it was a life,” Brenner said Sunday of the home her father and grandfather had built in southeastern Washington. “It was my life.”

By Sunday, the fire had swept across 49,000 acres of steep, rough terrain and destroyed more than 100 homes about 16 miles south of Pomeroy.

Firefighters had the blaze about half contained after Saturday’s rain and cooler temperatures, but thick timber and logs and fallen branches on the fire’s south end were slowing their efforts Sunday.

At the Pioneer Eatery, owner April Cikity has stayed open late in the past week to feed the firefighters.

“We told them we’d feed them all, and would not go home until they’d eaten,” Cikity said.

Idaho blaze under investigation
In Idaho, fire officials were still investigating the origins of a human-caused blaze that had burned more than 4,000 acres. Gov. Dirk Kempthorne declared a disaster emergency for Idaho County, where that fire and three others were burning.

“I hope I never see fire again,” said Sandra Nelson, while eating breakfast at Grangeville’s Camas Cafe with her husband, Jeff.

In western Montana, crews fighting an 11,000-acre blaze near Alberton were helped by cool, moist weather on Sunday. That fire, which began as two separate blazes along Interstate 90, was about 50 percent contained Sunday and could be fully contained by Monday, fire information officer Trish Hogervorst said.

“We are sending crews to other fires now that need it more,” Hogervorst said.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 30 large fires totaling 266,652 acres were burning Sunday, mostly in Western states. So far this year, wildfires have charred 5.85 million acres nationwide, compared with 5.88 million acres at the same time last year.

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