Officials: Washington wildfire closes stretch of Highway 97

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TOPPENISH — Washington Transportation Department officials say a new south-central Washington wildfire burning on both sides of U.S. Highway 97 has prompted the closure of a stretch of that highway between Toppenish and Goldendale.The department said late Wednesday afternoon that flames and smoke were causing hazardous driving conditions.

The Yakima Herald-Republic said the fire first reported Wednesday morning had burned across about 1,200 acres -- or nearly 2 square miles -- by Wednesday evening.

Forty firefighters and two water-dropping helicopters fought the fire, which sent up a huge column of white smoke.

The wildfire is burning in forest and grassland on the Yakama reservation north of the summit of Satus Pass. Its cause was not immediately known.