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Dry Weather Raises Threat As Fires Burn In Western States

August 26, 1996

Temperatures rose into the 90s Sunday in the Northwest as crews battled fires that had already charred thousands of acres of brush and forest.

``Everything’s tinder-dry out here,″ said Sheila Whitelaw, spokeswoman for the Colville Indian Reservation in north-central Washington.

Two fires had covered about 10,000 acres on the reservation. Some 150 people were briefly evacuated from their homes late Saturday.

In northeastern Oregon, a fire camp of 1,500 was evacuated and the 25 residents of Dale were advised to leave town Sunday night when a fire known as the Tower complex grew from 6,500 acres to 10,500 acres, said Umatilla National Forest spokesman Earle Rother.

About 130 miles southwest, a fast-moving 15,000-acre that destroyed 19 homes near the central Oregon city of Bend had moved away from heavily settled areas on Sunday. However, firefighters worried that a shift in wind might drive the flames back.

Steep terrain and erratic fire behavior hampered efforts to fight a group of blazes in northern California that had charred almost 30,000 acres of Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest, officials said.

The fires were only 21 percent contained and an evacuation warning remained in effect for several small Sierra Nevada communities, including Plum Flat and Jawbone.

About 100 miles north of San Francisco, crews were close to completing containment lines around a nearly 83,000-acre fire in the Mendocino National Forest.

Elsewhere, a 29,000-acre wildfire continued in a remote wilderness area of the Nez Perce and Bitterroot national forests in Idaho.

Smaller fires burned in southern California, Montana, Utah, Nevada and Wyoming, federal officials said.

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