Grant County wildfire 65 percent contained; all evacuations canceled

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GRANT COUNTY, Wash. -- All wildfire evacuations in Grant County have been canceled, as the sheriff's office says the fire is 65 percent contained.

The fire started on Monday and has burned more than 20,000 acres - about 32 square miles - near the Columbia River.

Officials still don't know what caused the wildfire, but dry and windy conditions helped it spread quickly.

Thanks to the hard work of firefighters, no homes burned.

It's the first major wildfire of what's expected to be an abnormally busy wildfire season.

With less precipitation than normal so far in 2019 and snowpack in the North Cascades depleting rapidly, conditions are already dry and much of the western side of the state has been declared in or at risk of drought.

The state Department of Natural Resources — the state's leading wildfire response force — fought 54 fires statewide in March. All but one was in western Washington.

DNR, along with the U.S. Forest Service and the state Department of Fish & Wildlife, recently forged an agreement that will allow better coordination to prevent and respond to wildfires.

Statewide, DNR has 1,500 permanent and temporary employees who fight fires on more than 13 million acres of private and public forest lands. Those crews have access to firefighting equipment including helicopters and airplanes.

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