Firefighters gain ground on Washington state wildfire

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Firefighters gained more ground on Monday against a lightning-sparked wildfire raging for a fourth day in north-central Washington state that continued to threaten about two dozen homes, though officials said they hoped to lift evacuation orders later in the day.

The so-called Douglas County Complex blaze has charred some 22,000 acres (90 square km) since erupting on Friday in grass- and brush-covered hills some 20 miles (32 km) east of Wenatchee, fire command spokesman Jeff Sevigney said.

Hundreds of firefighters backed by water-dropping aircraft were battling to keep the blaze in check. As of Monday, 55 percent of the fire was contained, up from 10 percent a day earlier, when its footprint was slightly smaller at nearly 20,000 acres (80 square km).

See photos from wildfires in Wenatchee last month:

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Firefighters gain ground on Washington state wildfire
Julie Smith, right, embraces her neighbor Renee Monson as they stand near the remains of Smith's home, destroyed in a wildfire the night before, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into town Sunday afternoon. The blaze ignited in brush just outside Wenatchee, quickly burning out of control. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Vern Smith walks through the rubble of his still smoldering home, destroyed in a wildfire the night before, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into town Sunday afternoon. The blaze ignited in brush just outside Wenatchee, quickly burning out of control. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Vern Smith, right, embraces his son Spencer, 13, as daughter Mary, 17, stands with them and his wife, Julie, joins them in front of the remains of their fire-destroyed home Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into town Sunday afternoon. The blaze ignited in brush just outside Wenatchee, quickly burning out of control. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Vern Smith, right, looks across at the rubble of his home, destroyed in a wildfire the night before, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into town Sunday afternoon. The blaze ignited in brush just outside Wenatchee, quickly burning out of control. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Tom Bryant describes the fire that destroyed his home the night before, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into town Sunday afternoon. The blaze ignited in brush just outside Wenatchee, quickly burning out of control. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Maureen Bryant walks past the remains of her home, destroyed in a wildfire a night earlier, and in view of blackened hills beyond as she calls out for her missing cat Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into town Sunday afternoon. The blaze ignited in brush just outside Wenatchee, quickly burning out of control. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Maureen Bryant looks over the remains of her home, destroyed in a wildfire a night earlier, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into town Sunday afternoon. The blaze ignited in brush just outside Wenatchee, quickly burning out of control. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Vern Smith picks through the rubble of his home, destroyed in a wildfire the night before, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into town Sunday afternoon. The blaze ignited in brush just outside Wenatchee, quickly burning out of control. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
In this Sunday, June 28, 2015 photo provided by The Wenatchee World, U.S. Forest Service fire fighters from Leavenworth cut brush near houses in northern Wenatchee, Wash. A wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into a central Washington neighborhood, destroying properties and forcing residents of several hundred homes to flee, authorities said Monday.(Don Seabrook/The Wenatchee World via AP) 
In this Sunday, June 28, 2015 photo provided by The Wenatchee World, a Douglas County fire fighter sprays down the back of a home in Wenatchee, Wash., trying to protect it from burning embers flying off of a neighboring house on fire. A wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into a central Washington neighborhood, destroying properties and forcing residents of several hundred homes to flee, authorities said Monday. (Don Seabrook/The Wenatchee World via AP)
In this Sunday, June 28, 2015 photo provided by The Wenatchee World, a Chelan County Sheriff's deputy races to check that all residents have left their home as flames approach houses at Quail Hollow Lane in Wenatchee, Wash. A wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into the central Washington neighborhood, destroying properties and forcing residents of several hundred homes to flee, authorities said Monday. (Don Seabrook/The Wenatchee World via AP)
In this Sunday, June 28, 2015 photo provided by The Wenatchee World, Forest Service fire fighters from Leavenworth watch as a house burns in northern Wenatchee, Wash. A wildfire fueled by high temperatures and strong winds roared into a central Washington neighborhood, destroying properties and forcing residents of several hundred homes to flee, authorities said Monday. (Don Seabrook/The Wenatchee World via AP)
Flames and smoke from one of several warehouses on fire, thought to have been sparked by embers from a wildfire that hit homes on a nearby hillside, rises from the collapsed structure Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfires hit parts of central and eastern Washington over the weekend as the state is struggling with a severe drought, destroying dozens of structures and forcing hundreds to flee. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
The foundation and chimneys from a destroyed home continue to smolder following a wildfire the night before, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfires hit parts of central and eastern Washington over the weekend as the state is struggling with a severe drought, destroying dozens of structures and forcing hundreds to flee. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
The foundation and chimneys from a destroyed home continue to smolder from a wildfire that raced through the area the night before, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfires hit parts of central and eastern Washington over the weekend as the state is struggling with a severe drought, destroying dozens of structures and forcing hundreds to flee. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
A firefighter pulls a hose next to one of several still-smoldering warehouses that burned, thought to have been sparked by embers from a wildfire that hit homes on a nearby hillside, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfires hit parts of central and eastern Washington over the weekend as the state is struggling with a severe drought, destroying dozens of structures and forcing hundreds to flee. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Smoke from several warehouses on fire, thought to have been sparked by embers from a wildfire that hit homes on a nearby hillside, fills the sky Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfires hit parts of central and eastern Washington over the weekend as the state is struggling with a severe drought, destroying dozens of structures and forcing hundreds to flee. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Firefighters walk along one of several still-smoldering warehouses that burned, thought to have been sparked by embers from a wildfire that hit homes on a nearby hillside, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfires hit parts of central and eastern Washington over the weekend as the state is struggling with a severe drought, destroying dozens of structures and forcing hundreds to flee. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
The close proximity that a wildfire encroached upon homes near Monitor, Wash., can be seen on Monday, June 29, 2015. The wildfires hit parts of central and eastern Washington over the weekend as the state is struggling with a severe drought. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review, via AP)
A resident wears a mask while walking in Wenatchee, Wash., near the Blue Bird fruit plant Monday, June 29, 2015. Emergency management officials say ammonia that started leaking from the fruit warehouse burning in a central Washington wildfire has dissipated and is no longer a threat. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review, via AP)
The foundation and chimneys from a destroyed home remain following a wildfire the night before, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. The wildfires hit parts of central and eastern Washington over the weekend as the state is struggling with a severe drought, destroying dozens of structures and forcing hundreds to flee. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
An ammonia leak from the Blue Bird packing plant is seen from East Wenatchee on Monday, Jun 29, 2015, in Wenatchee, Wash. Emergency management officials have issued a “shelter in place” order after ammonia started leaking from the fruit warehouse burning in the central Washington wildfire. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review, via AP)
Crews battle blaze near North #Wenatchee Avenue http://t.co/0QdnZZLSWA http://t.co/HkpikHPFrI
#SleepyHollowFire: count of burned houses & structures near Broadview up to 12, possibly more http://t.co/7MwcCnhcU5 http://t.co/iDmnTypPFS
And ladies and gentlemen is where I almost pooped my pants.. fireball came roaring over and melted the decals. Insane first brush fire of the year. #sleepyhollowfire#firefighter#savedthehouse#wenatchee#Godsgood
Rippers!! Wind was killer today. Wind, heat...killer fire #sleepyhollowfire but there's nothing sleepy about it. #wenatchee#Godsgood#wildland#sleepyhollowfire day1
In just a few hours the #SleepyHollowFire has gone from Monitor to #Wenatchee and homes are burning. http://t.co/PucTObg00i
Shits getting real #forestfire #byewenatchee
Sleepy Hollow Fire, it's getting real bad in Wenatchee sending prayers to friends, families, and the rest of the town🙏🔥#Pray#Wenatchee#FireSeason#Speechless
Aerial photo of the fire in north #Wenatchee near Sav-Mart. Photo / Jessica Richardson http://t.co/h9BYWbtcwR
#SleepyHollowFire unconfirmed: Walmart #Wenatchee is being evacuated. Photos by Kirby Hoyt south of Wenatchee http://t.co/N4bVz5kUCG
Please pray for Wenatchee I can't believe my home is burning down #prayforwenatchee #wenatcheestrong http://t.co/zR0vUylf6A
Updates to #SleepyHollowFire story have been posted here: http://t.co/scWuL1eTOq http://t.co/3v0gGK33XJ
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"We definitely benefited from better weather conditions yesterday and into today: cooler temperatures, humidity is up and we have not had any gale-force winds," Sevigney said.

No injuries or property losses have been reported so far, though 27 dwellings and 30 other buildings were listed as threatened, Sevigney said.

About 100 people were ordered to leave their homes over the weekend, though officials said they hoped to allow residents to begin returning Monday afternoon.

The Red Cross closed an emergency shelter it opened for evacuees at a high school in the town of Ephrata, south of the fire zone, due to lack of use.

The blaze grew out of five separate fires that were sparked by lightning and later merged into a larger conflagration burning on the outskirts of the community of Waterville, east of the Cascades mountain range.

Its wind-propelled flames made "numerous runs" through dry terrain over the weekend, but fire crews managed to keep homes and other buildings protected, Sevigney said.

The Douglas County fire zone is located about 20 miles (32 km) east of the city of Wenatchee, where a blaze last month destroyed or badly damaged two dozen residences.

Several smaller wildfires were burning elsewhere across the state this week.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Steve Gorman)

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