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Residents in Montana town told evacuations may last a week; Fire lines holding in Washington

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PORTLAND, Oregon — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is scheduled to participate in a Friday briefing on wildfires burning across the West. Crews in Washington continued to battle the largest blaze in state history, while there were evacuations in Idaho and Montana and a new fire on Kodiak Island in Alaska.

A loot at fire activity in the West:

WASHINGTON

The fire lines were holding as crews fought the largest wildfire on record in Washington state, even as rising temperatures and increased winds stoked the flames.

The National Weather Service had issued a red-flag warning Thursday for the fires near Okanogan, saying weather conditions had the potential to spread the flames.

Bernie Pineda, spokesman for the 450-square-mile fire, said winds were actually pushing portions of the giant fire back on itself.

The blazes killed three firefighters last week and have burned at least 40 homes and 40 outbuildings.

More than 1,150 square miles of Washington have burned, nearly the size of Rhode Island, the state Department of Natural Resources said.


ALASKA

PHOTO: The remains of a structure lost to a wildfire days earlier are seen in this aerial view near still green fields Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, near Chelan, Wash. The complex of fires burning throughout the area are the largest in state history. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
The remains of a structure lost to a wildfire days earlier are seen in this aerial view near still green fields Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, near Chelan, Wash. The complex of fires burning throughout the area are the largest in state history. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

A fast-moving wildfire has burned a library and several homes in a small, rural Kodiak Island community.

The fire erupted Thursday night in Chiniak, which is located about 45 miles southeast of the city of Kodiak. It has burned more than 2,000 acres.

Kodiak Police Chief Rhonda Wallace said early Friday that people were being urged to evacuate and about 100 had checked in with the department. Two people are staying at a shelter at the Kodiak Middle School.

It's not certain how the fire began. It's burning in an area thick with trees and crews are expecting wind gusts of up to 45 mph Friday.


IDAHO

People in west-central Idaho near Riggins have been told to evacuate due to a wildfire that expanded to 40 square miles. Nearly 600 firefighters were working to protect structures along U.S. Highway 95 and the Salmon River.

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MONTANA

Fire officials say residents of the Essex area in northwestern Montana could be out of their homes for up to a week, depending on the behavior of a fire that has closed within a half mile of the town on the southern edge of Glacier National Park.

The Flathead Beacon reports about 30 people attended a community meeting Thursday evening, just hours after they were evacuated.

Incident commander Mike Goicoechea told residents the fire was about 120 yards from BNSF Railway's main line. The rail line and a section of U.S. Highway 2 were closed shortly after the evacuation was announced. The Izaak Walton Inn evacuated its guests and employees.

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Video:
PHOTO: Washington state firefighters are holding their own against a giant wildfire despite high winds. (Aug. 28)
Washington state firefighters are holding their own against a giant wildfire despite high winds. (Aug. 28)
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