Some homeowners allowed to return near Wash. wildfire

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by KGW.com Staff

KREM.com

Posted on September 8, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 10:24 AM

HUSUM, Wash. - Threats to property close to the wildfire near White Salmon, Washington have eased on the east side, but winds could soon move the fire west.

Homeowners of 35 homes were allowed to return just before noon. Around 50 homes were still in potential danger. Crews said winds were expected to shift from the west by Sunday.

East winds were making for smoky conditions in the Portland metro area, firefighters warned Friday.

Officials on Saturday estimated the fire at 1,614 acres, an increase of approximately 200 acres since Friday.

Firefighters have the fire 40 percent contained and are still investigating the cause of the blaze.

Latest Inciweb: Wildfire condition reports

"The fire has not been as active as we were anticipating. Most of the fire activity is interior burning," US Forest Service spokesman Stan Hinatsu said Thursday.

Mother Nature was kind to firefighters on Thursday, said Chuck Turley, spokesman for Washington Interagency Incident Management.

"The wind has not done what was expected. We're making good progress on the fire now with the right people in the right places."

"It's like watching something that ominous. It is scary. It is a nightmare,"Angie Buchanan said.

"You don't think it is going to happen to you, and look it kind of upsets you," David Dolezal said. "I don't want to lose everything I've worked for all my life."

No homes have yet been lost, and no one injured.

Turley says most of the heavy timber that's burning is on industrial timberland owned by Longview Timber and SDS Lumber in Bingen, WA. 

The fire has been a challenge to fight, in steep terrain and a lot of dry fuel. Turley said firefighters had to be pulled out of a couple areas overnight as flames got into stands of oak trees that torched quickly.

He said rattlesnakes and poison oak also gave firefighters extra challenges.

Fire managers have organized a community meeting for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Columbia High School in White Salmon. The Red Cross evacuation center at the White Salmon Fire Hall remains open but saw only four of five people come for help Wednesday night.

Wash. DNR: What to do when wildfire threatens (doc)

The fire has stayed to the east of Highway 141, so the road is expected to stay open with one way traffic and a pilot car to guide traffic through the fire zone.

Fires started on Wednesday

Calls to Klickitat County 911 around 1:40 p.m. Wednesday alerted crews to four fires burning alongside Highway 141 five miles to the northwest of the SW Washington town of White Salmon. Two of the fires were doused by firefighters, but the other two got into timber and took off. By noon Thursday, the other two fires had merged into one.

Raw video: Fire near Husum

KGW Reporters Pat Dooris, Katherine Cook and Mark Hanrahan contributed to this report


View Husum fire in a larger map

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