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Oregon Residents View Wildfire Damage

July 15, 2002

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MADRAS, Ore. (AP) _ A wildfire slowed enough for residents to take their first look at the twisted sheet metal, charred furniture and melted glass of 18 ravaged homes in a subdivision of this north-central Oregon town.

Cooler weather and increased humidity slowed the fire Sunday, allowing crews to escort some owners into the Three Rivers community of retirement and vacation homes. The 16,000-acre blaze also burned 19 other buildings and three travel trailers, said Jeree Mills, a spokeswoman for the Northwest Fire Coordination Center.

Firefighters in yellow jackets took the group past smoldering stumps, piles of ash and twisted, scorched sheet metal roofing _ all that remained of houses struck by the fire.

``By the time it got to our place, it was pretty well gone,″ said Merritt Williams, a retired engineer with a five-acre lot on the subdivision. His house was burned to ash but a shop was left standing.

Firefighters had fought the blaze house to house, and managed to save most of the structures in the 200-home development, said David Widmark, a fire center spokesman. Crews poured water and fire retardant on the homes and cleared away brush and trees.

Officials had no estimate on when the fire, started by lightning earlier in the week, would be contained.

An evacuation order remained in effect for the 200 homes in Three Rivers and 80 homes in the nearby Forest Park and Chinook Village developments.

About 1,000 firefighters battled the fire Sunday.

The fire was one of several raging in the West.

_In northwestern Arizona, a wildfire raced across nearly 1,000 acres of dry brush and trees on Sunday, stopping just short of a small community of about 200 near Kingman, officials said.

The lightning-caused fire exploded in size from 80 acres earlier in the day and burned to within a mile of the mountain subdivision of Pine Lake before changing directions, Bureau of Land Management fire information officer Bob Hall said.

_At least 25 homes in southwestern Colorado were evacuated Sunday and firefighters had to move their helicopter base when a wind-whipped wildfire expanded.

The blaze, about 200 miles southwest of Denver, had covered about 15,000 acres by late Sunday and officials said it was no more than 10 percent contained.

_In Wyoming, firefighters began building a fire line around a blaze in Yellowstone National Park that had grown to more than 7,300 acres. Several trails and campsites near the fire were closed, but the major tourist attractions in the park remained open.

_A wildfire started in Nevada by lightning Thursday night spread into Utah on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of homes and threatening an old mining camp designated as a state historical landmark. The 3,500-acre blaze was burning about 220 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. It was unclear how many homes were evacuated.

_In California, a fire exploded to 6,000 acres Sunday just south of Topaz Lake, on the Nevada line, some 25 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe. About 150 people were urged to evacuate a nearby campground.

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On the Net:

National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov

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