Idaho evacuations ordered; Wash. residents go home

8:04 PM, Aug 18, 2012   |    comments
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SEATTLE - Thunderstorms and lightning are threatening fire officials' plans to contain a large blaze in central Washington state as hundreds of Washington and California residents return home to find out whether their homes were spared.

In Idaho, authorities have issued issued a mandatory evacuation order for some 350 homes in the area around Featherville due to thick smoke. That town and the community of Pine, both recreation getaways in the mountains 105 miles northeast of Boise, remain in the path of the 130-square-mile Trinity Ridge Fire.

To the west, many residents in Washington state are returning to the south and east sides of a 35-square mile blaze in the Cascade Range, about 75 miles east of Seattle. That fire destroyed 70 residential properties and 210 other structures.

But fire danger remains high in the area, with hot, dry weather and a chance for storms and lightning expected this evening. Firefighters in California are making progress on some of the nearly dozen wildfires burning across that state, including one in rural San Diego County.

Crews also are gaining ground against a series of Northern California wildfires. A light sprinkling of rain has helped crews battling a large fire in the Plumas National Forest, about 120 miles north of Sacramento.

The Chips fire is 34 percent contained, but continues to threaten about 900 homes.

The Associated Press

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