Aerial view of the Taylor Bridge fire in Washington state, 14 August 2012. NBC News

14 August 2012 (NBC News) – Wildfires raged in several Western states on Tuesday, destroying dozens of homes and threatening hundreds more. In Idaho, one firefighter was killed by a falling tree.

A fire in central Washington grew rapidly overnight and destroyed more than 60 homes, spurring the state's governor to declare an emergency in two counties, NBC station KING of Seattle reported.

Anne Veseth, a 20-year-old who was in her second season as a firefighter, was killed Sunday as she worked a fire near Orofino, Idaho, the U.S. Forest Service told The Associated Press. Her older brother also is a wild-land firefighter in Idaho, where 12 blazes are burning.

“The Forest Service is devastated by the loss of one of our own," Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell told the AP.

Officials were investigating the death, which came on the same day that another firefighter narrowly escaped a wildfire in southeastern Oregon.

That firefighter was forced to deploy her emergency shelter in an area overrun by wind-whipped flames. She suffered minor burns to a leg and forearm and minor smoke inhalation.

The rest of her 20-person federal crew made it to a safety zone and was pulled off the fire. The blaze scorched about 653 square miles in remote terrain straddling Oregon and Nevada, where five ranches in the Kings River Valley were evacuated.

A crew in central Washington state also barely outran flames at a wind-driven fire in Kittitas County. The firefighters managed to drive to safety as they got ahead of the Taylor Bridge fire, said Richelle Risdon, a county fire spokeswoman.

That wind-whipped fire, burning in rugged terrain near Cle Elum grew from 2,800 acres to more than 20,000 acres in a matter of hours overnight, KING reported.

As of Tuesday afternoon, it had destroyed more than 60 homes as well as 40 other structures. Another 450 homes were evacuated as winds shifted northeast, blowing toward several pockets of homes and subdivisions.

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire declared a state of emergency in Kittitas and Yakima counties to make available more resources to fight the fire.

With the wind howling late Monday, the fire quickly burned through rugged timber, crowning in trees and glowing across ridge lines. 

There is no containment line around the fire as of Tuesday afternoon. […]

Meanwhile, crews in Northern California made progress against an aggressive wildfire in Lake County that grew to more than 9 square miles and destroyed three buildings. Officials lifted evacuation orders for the residents of nearly 500 homes late Monday, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. […]

A separate wildfire to the north was threatening about 600 homes, prompting some evacuation orders in the Seneca and Rush Creek communities in Plumas National Forest.

The so-called Wye and Walker fires have charred 7,000 acres and are 30 percent contained, Berlant told KCRA. About 1,100 firefighters were on scene of those fires.

Fires across California have affected some national parks, including Lassen Volcanic National Park and Joshua Tree National Park.

In Lassen Volcanic National Park, which is in northeastern California, a fire that burned 33 square miles of pine forests and thick brush forced the closure of a highway and several trails. […]

Firefighter killed as wildfires rage across the West, destroying dozens of homes



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