Wildfires Rage Across Western United States

A wildfire in central Washington was just one of several that swept through the arid West.

By Debra Pangestu
|  Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012  |  Updated 11:29 AM PDT
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Vallecito Fires Update 11 p.m. 0814

AP

Wildfires blazed across most of the Western U.S. Tuesday, destroying dozens of homes and threatening hundreds more.

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Vallecito Fires Update 11 p.m. 0814

Several fires burning in San Diego's East County threaten homes. NBC 7's Nicole Gonzales reports.
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Wildfires blazed across the western U.S. Tuesday, spurred by strong winds, triple digit temperatures and arid conditions. The fires destroyed dozens of homes and threatened hundreds more, NBC News reported.

In central Washington, more than 60 homes were destroyed and 450 others were evacuated in an overnight fire, causing Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire to declare a state of emergency in Kittitas and Yakima counties.

NBC station KING reported that a wind-driven fire in Kittitas County grew from 2,800 acres to more than 20,000 acres overnight. No injuries had been reported.

The wildfire in Washington state was just one of several that swept through arid western states.

In southern Oregon, a wildfire burned through about 30,000 acres of forested land and threatened 200 structures, Reuters reported.

NBC News reported that in Northern California, a wildfire in Lake County grew to more than 9 square miles, destroying three buildings. An evacuation order was issued for residents of nearly 500 homes, but was later lifted.

Two separate wildfires in Lake County, dubbed the Wye and Walker fires, threatened about 600 homes and charred 7,000 acres, NBC Bay Area reported. The blaze prompted some evacuation orders in the Seneca and Rush Creek communities in Plumas National Forest.

One firefighter was hurt in the Walker fire, and one civilian was injured in the Wye fire, Reuters reported.

Several other fires in Southern California sparked by lightning had scorched 9,325 acres, according to NBC San Diego. About 288 residents of Ranchita in San Diego's East County were given a mandatory evacuation order.

About 400 firefighters were still battling a 3,000-acre brush fire in Riverside Country early Wednesday, NBC Los Angeles reported. The fire destroyed four structures, and injured two firefighters and one civilian, who was airlifted to the hospital with serious burns.

"We have a long day ahead of us with the weather and the heat coming up," said Glenn Barley, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Fires were also burning in Idaho, where a 20-year-old firefighter died after she was struck by a falling tree. Anne Veseth was trying to extinguish a 43-acre fire near Orofino with her 20-person crew when the incident occurred, The Associated Press reported.

Federal investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating Veseth's death to determine whether federal rules were being followed.

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