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Weather conditions helping firefighters battling giant blazes in north-central Washington


SPOKANE, Washington — Lower temperatures and higher humidity gave helped firefighters Tuesday as they tried to control iant wildfires burning in north-central Washington.

A wildfire north of Nespelem that burned 320 square miles was 25 percent contained on Tuesday morning. Fire officials said a 252-square mile fire burning just west of there was 30 percent contained.

"The weather is really helping," fire spokesman Donnie Davis said.

Highs that had been in the 90s recently were in the 60s now, and humidity had more than doubled into the 40s, Davis said.

Meanwhile, the Okanogan Complex of wildfires was measured at 225 square miles and was 40 percent contained. This had been the largest wildfire in state history until more than half was split off this week by fire managers into a separately-managed blaze.

The Okanogan Complex has cost $13.7 million to fight so far, and 1,244 firefighters remain on the lines, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The fire killed three firefighters on Aug. 18, injured four others, and has burned more than 100 structures.

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Evacuation notices of various levels remain in effect in west-central Idaho, where a wildfire burning in timber expanded by 12 square miles to 135 square miles Tuesday. Crews were working to protect structures along the Salmon River corridor and rafters were being stopped and evacuated before entering the fire perimeter. In northern Idaho, a 53-square-mile fire is within 5 miles of the Fenn Ranger Station, built in 1936 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Evacuation warnings remain for those threatened by a wildfire south of John Day, but mild weather helped crews fighting the blaze that has burned 165 square miles and destroyed 43 homes. Fire spokeswoman Stacey Weems said the fire is 49 percent contained.

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