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:

12 PHOTOS
Wenatchee washington wildfire
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Firefighters gain ground on Washington state wildfire
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)

WASHINTONG STATE WILDFIRES THREATEN HOMES, PROMT EVACUATIONS AS BLAZE CONTINUES

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