Entire E. Washington town told to evacuate ahead of wildfire

Lind, Wash. — An entire eastern Washington town was being evacuated Thursday because of a growing wildfire south of town that was burning homes, officials said.

At about 1:30 pm Thursday the Adams County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook that about 10 homes in Lind had burned. Lind, with a population of about 500 people, is located about 75 miles southwest of Spokane.

“At this time all residents of the town of Lind need to evacuate immediately,” the sheriff’s office said in the post, adding that people could seek shelter at the Ritzville Grade School.

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Later Thursday, officials clarified that six homes had burned as well as eight other structures.

Washington Department of Natural Resources officials said Thursday they expected the fire to pass through town, but Sheriff Dale J. Wagner said at about 5 pm that the fire was starting to calm down and that evacuations remained only on the south side of Lind.

“The information I have right now is it is starting to calm down,” Wagner said about the fire via Facebook video. “They will be fighting it through the night to make sure it doesn’t flare up anymore or get worse,” he said, adding that firefighters were dealing with high heat and windy conditions.

He said one firefighter suffered smoke inhalation and was flown to Spokane for treatment.

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The State Fire Marshal’s office said Thursday that state fire assistance was mobilized to help fight the fire, estimated to have burned about 3.9 square miles. Homes, infrastructure and crops were threatened, officials said. The cause of the blaze was under investigation.

Westbound State Route 21 at State Route 395 was temporarily closed in that area. At about 3:30 pm, two airplanes and one helicopter had responded to help fight the fire, according to the sheriff’s office.

The new blaze was one of several that sparked this week around Washington.

A fire southwest of Spokane that started Wednesday burned at least two structures and authorities there were telling people in dozens of homes to evacuate. The state Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that the Williams Lake Fire had grown to 5 square miles (10.3 square kilometers) and was less than 10% contained.

Spokane County Fire District #3 Chief Cody Rorbach said two structures were destroyed. It wasn’t immediately known if those were primary residences, or actively in use. Williams Lake is about 32 miles (51.5 kilometers) south of Spokane.

The Cow Canyon Fire about 12 miles (19.3 kilometers) southwest of Ellensburg was also threatening structures and prompting mandatory evacuations after starting Wednesday afternoon.

That blaze prompted emergency evacuation notices for about 50 homes or structures 10 miles north of Naches, The Seattle Times reported. The fire had grown to 8.75 square miles (22.6 square kilometers) by Thursday morning.

The Vantage Highway Fire near the town of Vantage, Washington, started Monday and as of Thursday had burned a cabin and three outbuildings, officials said on Thursday. The blaze was estimated at 26.5 square miles (68.6 square kilometers) with about 25% containment. Earlier evacuation orders for residents had been lifted as of Thursday.

Climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive, according to scientists.

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