Wildfires trigger new evacuation orders across U.S. Northwest

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Active-Duty Military Called to Battle Wildfires in West

Wildfires raging across the U.S. Northwest triggered new evacuation orders for hundreds of homes as firefighters battled more than a dozen major blazes across drought-parched Western states, authorities said on Wednesday.

The blazes have blackened more than 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) across the arid region, prompting fire managers to call in help from the U.S. Army and abroad.

This week, the national year-to-date tally of area burned passed 7 million acres (2.9 million hectares). That figure had not been reached so early in the year for two decades.

Related images of wildfires in Washington state:

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Washington State wildfires August 2015
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Wildfires trigger new evacuation orders across U.S. Northwest
OMAK, WA - AUGUST 22: A makeshift fire truck puts water on a wildfire, which is part of the Okanogan Complex, as it burns through brush on August 22, 2015 near Omak, Washington. The fires have burned more tha 127,000 acres. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
OMAK, WA - AUGUST 23: A farmer mows alfalfa amid the smoke from the Okanagon Complex Wildfires on August 23, 2015 near Omak, Washington. More than 1,000 personnel are fighting the Okanagon Complex Fires which have burned more 239,000 acres. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
OKANOGAN, WA - AUGUST 22: Firefighters extinguish hotpots after a wildfire, part of the Okanogan Complex, swept through the area on August 22, 2015 near Okanogan, Washington. The Okanogan Complex fires have burned more than 127,000 acres. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
OMAK, WA - AUGUST 21: A wildfire, which is part of the Okanogan Complex, flares up on August 21, 2015 in the hills near Omak, Washington. The fires, which killed three firefighters and critically injured another, threaten homes and communities throughout the area. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Smoke from an approaching wildfire looms over a home near Twisp, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. Authorities on Wednesday afternoon urged people in the north-central Washington town to evacuate because of a fast-moving wildfire. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
In this Monday, Aug, 17, 2015, photo, a sheep dog and her two pups protect a dead fawn, killed when fire swept through Kamiah, Idaho. The dogs stayed for hours, warding off people and potential predators, according to a witness. The group of fires near Kamiah, in northern Idaho, has destroyed more than 40 homes. (Louis Armstrong via AP)
Flames and smoke rise on a ridge line above a ranch on Twisp River Road in Twisp, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. Authorities on Wednesday afternoon urged people in the north-central Washington town to evacuate because of a fast-moving wildfire. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Washington National Guard soldier, left, tosses a flare as his team burns brush and other materials inside their dirt fire line near a home threatened by the First Creek Fire, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, near Chelan, Wash. The troops in Washington state were part of a massive response to blazes burning uncontrolled throughout the West. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Colby Lyon, right, of the Central Region Strike Force Team II, sprays a hillside with water as he works with Washington National Guard soldiers to fight the First Creek Fire, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, near Chelan, Wash. The troops in Washington state were part of a massive response to blazes burning uncontrolled throughout the West. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Flames burn forest debris at the First Creek Fire, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, near Chelan, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Three Washington National Guard soldiers stand near a structure as they fight the First Creek Fire, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, near Chelan, Wash. The troops in Washington state were part of a massive response to blazes burning throughout the West. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington National Guard Sgt. Danny Redington uses a flare to light controlled back burns as he fights the First Creek Fire, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, near Chelan, Wash. The troops in Washington state were part of a massive response to blazes burning throughout the West. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A fire-retardant airplane passes near the sun turned orange with smoke as a wildfire burns near Twisp, Wash. Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
An air tanker drops red fire retardant on a wildfire near Twisp, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. Authorities on Wednesday afternoon urged people in the north-central Washington town to evacuate because of a fast-moving wildfire. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Chris Schaefer, a faller with U.S. Timber Cuters, cuts down a tree, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, near a fire line on the First Creek Fire near Chelan, Wash. Trees that posed a risk to firefighters or that could fall and carry fire across dirt fire lines were being cut Wednesday as firefighters braced for high winds and heat later in the day. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Smoke from an approaching wildfire looms over a home near Twisp, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. Authorities on Wednesday afternoon urged people in the north-central Washington town to evacuate because of a fast-moving wildfire. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington National Guard Sgt. Danny Redington carries water on his back to fight hot spots as he stands near a burning tree while fighting the First Creek Fire, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, near Chelan, Wash. The troops in Washington state were part of a massive response to blazes burning throughout the West. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington National Guard Sgt. Matt Eagen checks under a large rock for hotspots on a hillside as he fights the First Creek Fire, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, near Chelan, Wash. The troops in Washington state were part of a massive response to blazes burning throughout the West. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Timber burns in the First Creek fire near lakeside structures on the western shore of Lake Chelan late Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, near Chelan, Wash. Big wildfires threatened the Lake Chelan resort region of central Washington on Monday after driving away tourists, destroying a warehouse filled with nearly 2 million pounds of apples and forcing thousands of residents to flee. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Timber burns in the First Creek fire near lakeside structures on the western shore of Lake Chelan late Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, near Chelan, Wash. Big wildfires threatened the Lake Chelan resort region of central Washington on Monday after driving away tourists, destroying a warehouse filled with nearly 2 million pounds of apples and forcing thousands of residents to flee. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Chelan County Public Utility District worker walks past a burned structure along State Route Alt. 97 highway Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, outside of Chelan, Wash. Big wildfires threatened the Lake Chelan resort region of central Washington on Monday after driving away tourists, destroying a warehouse filled with nearly 2 million pounds of apples and forcing thousands of residents to flee. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Chelan County Public Utility District worker walks past a burned truck along State Route Alt. 97 highway Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, just outside of Chelan, Wash. Workers were in the area replacing burnt utility poles and inspecting power and other utility lines. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A burned structure is shown along State Route Alt. 97 highway Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, just outside of Chelan, Wash. Several large fires burning near the town destroyed dozens of homes and businesses, officials said. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Chelan County Public Utility District truck drives near a burned structure Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, just outside of Chelan, Wash. Several large fires burning near the town destroyed dozens of homes and businesses, officials said. Workers were in the area replacing burnt utility poles and inspecting power and other utility lines. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Chelan County Public Utility District truck is parked near a burned structure Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, just outside of Chelan, Wash. Several large fires burning near the town destroyed dozens of homes and businesses, officials said. Workers were in the area replacing burnt utility poles and inspecting power and other utility lines. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Chelan County Public Utility District workers walk near a new power pole, at right, to replace one that burned along State Route Alt. 97 highway Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, just outside of Chelan, Wash. Several large fires burning near the town destroyed dozens of homes and businesses, officials said. Workers were in the area replacing burnt utility poles and inspecting power and other utility lines. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A helicopter used for fighting wildfires carries a water bucket above a burned ridge line above the Columbia river, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, outside of Chelan, Wash. Big wildfires threatened the Lake Chelan resort region of central Washington on Monday after driving away tourists, destroying a warehouse filled with nearly 2 million pounds of apples and forcing thousands of residents to flee. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Chelan County Public Utility District worker surveys a burned structure along State Route Alt. 97 highway Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, outside of Chelan, Wash. Workers were in the area replacing burnt utility poles and inspecting power and other utility lines. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A business sign thanks firefighters, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, outside of Chelan, Wash. Several large fires burning near the town destroyed dozens of homes and businesses over the weekend, officials said. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A burned structure is shown along State Route Alt. 97 highway Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, just outside of Chelan, Wash. Several large fires burning near the town destroyed dozens of homes and businesses, officials said. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A partially melted swing set sits next to a burned structure along State Route Alt. 97 highway Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, outside of Chelan, Wash. The blazes near Chelan, about 180 miles east of Seattle, are burning through grass, brush and timber, fire spokeswoman Janet Pearce said. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A helicopter used for fighting wildfires flies above the Columbia river, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, outside of Chelan, Wash. Big wildfires threatened the Lake Chelan resort region of central Washington on Monday after driving away tourists, destroying a warehouse filled with nearly 2 million pounds of apples and forcing thousands of residents to flee. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A Chelan County Public Utility District worker climbs a utility pole in a burned area along State Route Alt. 97 highway Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, outside of Chelan, Wash. Workers were in the area replacing burnt utility poles and inspecting power and other utility lines. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Remains from a burned structure sit along State Route Alt. 97 highway Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, outside of Chelan, Wash. Big wildfires threatened the Lake Chelan resort region of central Washington on Monday after driving away tourists, destroying a warehouse filled with nearly 2 million pounds of apples and forcing thousands of residents to flee. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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In north-central Washington state, about 200 people were forced from their residences as a cluster of fires bore down on the town of Conconully late on Tuesday, said Lorraine Utt at the county's emergency operations center.

More than 1,400 other people were placed under evacuation orders across the county, Utt added, but most of them had since been allowed to return to homes.

To the south, firefighters by Wednesday managed to dig containment lines around about half of a wildfire burning on the outskirts of Chelan, Washington, a resort town at the southern tip of Lake Chelan, fire information officer Lorena Wisehart said.

In central Oregon, another conflagration of wildfires near the rural community of John Day had destroyed three dozen homes since the weekend and threatened many others.

The state's fire marshal's office said high winds posed a challenge as ground crews fought to keep the 48,200-acre (19,500-hectare) fire away from homes and a critical power transmission line.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown was due to tour the area later on Wednesday.

In the mountains of north-central Idaho, a group of blazes that grew to 100 square miles (260 square km) forced evacuations on Tuesday from dozens of homes near the small town of Weippe.

The so-called Clearwater Complex of fires burning in and around the Nez Perce Indian Reservation has consumed 50 homes and 80 outbuildings near the logging town of Kamiah, Idaho, since it was sparked by lightning last week.

An elderly woman in the area was killed when she fell and struck her head while trying to secure her backyard chickens before fleeing the fire with her husband, authorities said.

On Wednesday, flames were advancing on Kamiah from three sides as another part of the complex was reaching north toward Weippe, said federal fire information officer Dixie Dies.

"This fire is amoebic. It's spreading everywhere," Dies said.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho, and Courtney Sherwood in Portland, Ore.; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Daniel Wallisand Peter Cooney)

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