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Western wildfires threaten homes in 4 states, 1 dead, officials say

By Doug G. Ware
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Western wildfires threaten homes in 4 states, 1 dead, officials say
Firefighters battle the Soda Fire in Idaho on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015. The blaze has destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres and several homes, officials said. Photo: BLM Idaho Fire / Twitter

PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 16 (UPI) -- At least one person has died so far and many homes have been burned to the ground as four wildfires spread in the western United States, officials said Sunday.

The blazes, burning in drought-ravaged California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, have wrought havoc on miles of acreage in recent days. The largest, called the Soda Fire, has so far burned nearly 300,000 acres -- and the state's Lawyer Complex Fire has so far destroyed more than 50 homes, officials said.

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A woman died Friday as she was preparing to flee the wildfire, officials said. Authorities believe she fell and injured her head.

"At this time we are recommending that residents NOT return to the evacuated areas as they are still active fire areas. Those that do return, do so at their own risk," Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings said.

Idaho's governor declared a state of emergency in parts of the state, government fire-monitoring agency Inciweb reported.

In California, the Cabin Fire was sparked Saturday and is approaching 2,000 acres. It is 20 percent contained.

North, in Oregon, 35,000 acres of land have been torched by the lightning-caused Canyon Creek Complex Fire -- and more than 100 structures have been destroyed in Washington state.

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Weather conditions, affected by the fires, vary across each of the states and officials said air quality there is at its worst level in some places.

Wildfires have been particularly bothersome in California this year, where drought has dehydrated vegetation for four years.

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