Wildfires raged across the West on Thursday, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes in Washington state. Authorities also closed a highway there as firefighters battled blazes whipped by strong wind, fed by triple-digit temperatures and burning out of control. Thirty counties in Washington were under states of emergency, and none of the incendiary weather conditions — heat, wind and low humidity — was expected to abate through Friday.
Wildfires also burned in Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Oregon and California. One fire burning near the city of Leavenworth, Washington, forced the closure of U.S. Highway 2, which connects Seattle to eastern Washington, and triggered an evacuation order for more than 800 homes. That fire, believed caused by lightning, sent up a smoke plume almost 5 miles high and visible 70 miles away in Seattle. The largest fire blazing in Washington state, near the town of Entiat, was 40 percent contained. Several of the Western fires were believed sparked by lightning, and one in California was blamed on marijuana-growing activity.
— Associated Press material was used in this report.
First published July 16 2014, 8:40 PM