Wildfire prompts evacuations and warnings in Washington state

A wildfire in eastern Washington state prompted evacuations and helicopter rescues on Friday as officials scrambled to contain the flames across the state and in the nearby Canadian province of British Columbia.

The Ashes Fire, which started in Washington state around noon Friday, burned 3,000 acres in a few hours and threatened the communities of Medicine Lake and Four Lakes. The area, about 20 miles southwest of Spokane, has a population of more than 5,000.

A so-called red flag warning, meaning dangerous fire conditions exist or are imminent, was scheduled to go into effect at 10 a.m. Saturday for eastern Washington state and northern Idaho. The National Weather Service said.

KHQ, the NBC affiliate in Spokane, It was reported late Friday One person has died in connection with the Gray Fire, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. No other details were available, and police officials could not be reached for comment overnight.

Joe Smillie, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, said by phone Friday that the wildfire destroyed several structures at Medicine Lake. It was zero percent on Friday night.

Mr. Smillie said.

“All Medicine Lake citizens, evacuate now,” said Medicine Lake Mayor Terry Cooper Facebook. The city later warned that local water was not safe to drink unless it was boiled.

The fire broke out south of Cheney, a town of about 13,000 people at Eastern Washington University. Mr. Smiley said firefighters were trying to contain the fire or stop it from spreading.

Photos posted by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office on the social networking site X, formerly known as Twitter, showed pilots flying near a forest with flames and smoke in the sky.

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and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Friday warned Stronger winds could push fires that have been burning along the British Columbia Cascades border since July into the United States and toward a protected area. The fire, the Crater Creek Fire, has burned at least 54,000 acres; The Protected landThe Loomis Natural Resources Conservation Area is nearly half that size.

“We have a long night ahead of us, but please stay safe,” said Hilary Franz, commissioner of public lands in Washington. said Friday night at X. “We will be focused on bringing this fast-moving fire under control.”

In Canada, a state of emergency was declared early Saturday morning due to dangerous wildfires in the western province of British Columbia. A few homes burned and others were destroyed on the suburban fringes of Kelowna, a major resort area.

Most residents of Yellowknife, a town of 20,000 in the Northwest Territories, fled ahead of deadline as the wildfire neared the city limits.

Wildfires are increasing in size and intensity in the western United States, and wildfire seasons are growing longer. Recent studies suggest that heat and drought associated with global warming are the main reasons for the increase in larger and more severe fires.

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