Canadians called in to help battle Washington wildfires

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Several Clark County fire districts have sent firefighters to help on the state’s major wildfires. East County Fire & Rescue has seven firefighters helping. The district also is providing equipment.

Rick Knapp of ECFR said “the Camas-Washougal Fire Department has several individuals mobilized as well.” Clark County Fire & Rescue out of north county has also sent firefighters.

On Thursday, the Clark County Fire Marshal issued the following statement: ‘Because of continued hot temperatures, dry conditions and the forecast for high winds throughout Southwest Washington, Clark County is asking residents not to have recreational fires until further notice.’ ”

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photoFirefighter Mike Ryan watches as a Chinook helicopter drops water on the Wild Rose fire along U.S. Highway 12 west of Naches on Sunday. The Wild Rose fire has grown to more than 1,300 acres with over 200 firefighters near Rimrock Lake using helicopters and explosives instead of bulldozers to clear fire lines.

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SEATTLE — Washington and Oregon crews just aren’t big enough for the wildfires in Washington state, so officials are calling Canada for help.

More than 100 firefighters and support crew were expected to arrive Sunday and Monday, said Carol Connolly, a spokeswoman for the Northwest Coordination Center, who manages forest fires in Washington and Oregon.

The Canadians, from British Columbia, are joining about 3,500 Washington and Oregon crew members fighting five large fires in Washington state. U.S. officials are also talking to Alberta officials about sending more firefighters.

“I think it’s kind of neat the crews from Canada are coming down to help us,” Connolly said.

She said the two countries work out these agreements during the winter — “and hope we never have to use them.”

Another 800 people from the Northwest are fighting fires in other states, mostly in Idaho, California and Montana, Connolly said.

The number of big wildfires across the nation this season has drained resources, she said. More than 14,000 people have fought wildfires in the United States this season.

Every available firefighter in Washington and Oregon is already fighting fires and more people are needed, she said. All of Washington’s current big wildfires started during a Sept. 8 lightning storm.

All of Washington’s current big wildfires started in a Sept. 8 lightning storm. The largest is burning more than 51 square miles near Wenatchee. The Wenatchee complex is only 17 percent contained and has forced hundreds of people out of their homes. A majority of the 700 homes in the area were under an evacuation order Sunday because they were in imminent danger, Connolly said.

A majority of the 700 homes were under an evacuation order Sunday because they were in imminent danger, Connolly said.

Evacuations were also ordered near two other fires: the Yakima complex burning on about 6,000 acres and the Okanogan complex, which is burning north of Wenatchee on nearly 4,000 acres.

The Cascade Creek complex of fires was burning on about 6,000 acres. Washington’s fifth-largest wildfire complex, the 3-square-mile Barker Canyon Fire, was nearly surrounded by Sunday, Connolly said.