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New wildfire in Washington State prompts evacuation

Smoke from the Chiwaukum Creek fire east of Stevens Pass in Washington could be seen in Seattle, 100 miles away.
By Frances Burns   |   July 17, 2014 at 9:02 AM   |   Comments

SEATTLE, July 17 (UPI) -- A new wildfire in Washington State prompted hundreds of evacuations and closed a highway as the Oregon governor declared a state of emergency.

The Chiwaukum Creek fire east of Stevens Pass grew from 500 acres to 2,000 on Wednesday. Smoke from the blaze could be seen in Seattle, 100 miles away.

Fire officials ordered about 800 people to leave the fire area, including campers. A section of Highway 2, which runs through Stevens Pass, connecting it to Leavenworth and Wenatchee, was closed.

California, Oregon and Washington have been battling hundreds of wildfires because of the prolonged drought on the west coast. On Wednesday, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a state of emergency, allowing the National Guard to be brought in.

"Conditions are dry and new fires are starting daily," Kitzhaber said.

Officials declared new restrictions, beginning Thursday, on the use of fires and stoves on federal lands in south central Oregon.

"The moisture content of both living and dead vegetation is much lower now than it usually is for this time of year," said Joe Reinarz, fire management officer for the Fremont-Winema National Forest. "New fires are showing rapid growth and increased resistance to control effort."

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