Wildfire in central Washington grasslands grows to 74 square miles

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A wildfire burning in dry grasslands in a lowly populated part of central Washington state grew dramatically early Thursday, driven by hot weather and gusty winds, while firefighters gained ground on two smaller fires.

The fire burning northwest of the town of Quincy increased in size from 16 square miles on Wednesday to 74 square miles on Thursday, the state Department of Natural Resources said. It was being fought by 275 firefighters, who had it 20 percent contained.

“Dry and gusty red flag conditions resulted in extreme fire growth in steep and rugged terrain,” the agency said in statement.

The lightning-caused fire started earlier in the week, and roared through ranch land owned by Molly Linville. She took to Facebook to write about the flames burning across her ranch on Tuesday night. But she noted that her cattle and farmhouse all survived.

“I still cannot figure out how they survived,” Linville wrote. “Counting my blessings.”

Meanwhile, firefighters gained the upper hand on a fire burning near Yakima, Washington, which had prompted the mandatory evacuation of about 20 homes, with the occupants of another 100 homes warned to be ready to leave quickly. Fire officials said Thursday afternoon that the fire which had burned about 4.7 square miles was 80 percent contained and that evacuation notices would be reduced Thursday evening, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

Another fire burning near Wenatchee, Washington, covered 14 square miles  Thursday, was 60 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon. That fire threatened about 80 homes. That fire did not grow overnight or on Thursday, the natural resources agency said.

Inciweb fire map as of June 29, 2017.

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