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Wildfires in Washington, Idaho continue challenging crews

Trinity Ridge Fire
Zane Brown/inciweb.org
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High winds are challenging crews battling the Taylor Bridge fire in central Washington; and crews fighting the Trinity Ridge fire in Idaho are in a standoff with that fire, waiting for it to reach lower ground.

Trinity Ridge fire in Idaho 

Fire crews in southern Idaho are now at a standoff with a fire that’s surrounded the resort town of Featherville. It’s been clear for days that the town’s businesses and summer homes are in the path of the 90,000 Trinity Ridge Fire east of Boise.

But fire managers say they have to wait for the blaze to creep to lower ground before crews can fight it head-on.

082112JR_TrinityRidge1.jpeg
Credit Kari Greer/inciweb.org
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Firefighters receive a briefing on the Trinity Ridge Fire in southern Idaho.

Meanwhile, about 30 residents are refusing to leave Featherville, despite an evacuation order over the weekend. Fire information officer Steve Till says sheriff deputies cannot force anyone out of their homes.

“Of course they’ve been told by the firefighters, we will do all we can to protect your homes and you but we’re not going to risk our firefighters’ lives if you insist on staying someplace we ask you to leave. "That sounds kind of harsh but the reality is, people that stay in their homes don’t help us any. They’re one additional thing the fire people have to worry about,” Till said.

Till says cooler temperatures could give a boost to the team of a thousand people now fighting the massive blaze. Idaho Governor Butch Otter plans to join state emergency management officials on helicopter tour of Idaho’s wildfires this afternoon.

Taylor Bridge fire in Washington

Firefighters in central Washington are contending with heavy winds today as they try to get control of the Taylor Bridge fire near Cle Elum. Gusts of up to 30 miles per hour have been testing the fire lines. 

So far the blaze has scorched more than 23,000 acres, and crews have it 57-percent contained. More than 1,000 people are working to put out the blaze. Mark Morrow is an information officer for the Taylor Bridge fire. He says lower temperatures in the 70s and 80s today will help firefighters, but the wind is a problem.

“When it hits those flames it just pushes them and drives them, and gets the fire brands and embers airborne and they tend to spot out ahead of yourself. And it causes problems especially if the fire is very active," Morrow said.

Morrow says crews are working hard to “button up” this fire and reach containment by the end of the day. So far about 50 homes have been lost in the Taylor Bridge fire.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio

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Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.
Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.