Evacuation area shrinks near southwest Washington fire
CAMAS, Wash. (AP) — Some roads reopened and evacuation zones shrank near a wildfire fed Sunday by gusty winds and low humidity east of Vancouver, Washington, as fire officials got a better handle on fire activity amid weather changes.
About 3,000 residents were told to leave their homes Sunday night as the Nakia Creek Fire in eastern Clark County near Camas ballooned in size.
Officials on Monday updated evacuation zones, saying they were lessening them but adding that the fire was still active and that things could again change.
Officials also updated the estimated area burned from 2,000 acres (just over 3 square miles) to some 1,565 acres (nearly 2.5 square miles) after fire crews were better able to see the fire. Smoke from the fire and others burning in Washington and Oregon grounded aircraft Sunday, officials said.
No structures have been damaged by the fire, and no injuries have been reported, Sharon Steriti, spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources, told The Columbian.
A nearby prison also was evacuated and people in custody were moved to temporary alternate housing at other facilities, according to information on the Larch Corrections Center webpage. It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were lodged there; the prison holds up to 240 people.
The Washougal School District closed all schools Monday. Two of the schools were inside mandatory evacuation areas.
The wildfire was burning in rugged terrain of brush and timber. Authorities also said they were looking for white or light-colored Subaru seen on video where the fire started Oct. 9, KOIN-TV reported.
Last week, Washington Department of Natural Resources officials said they believed the fire was “human-caused” as there was no lightning when it broke out. Officials said they were still trying to determine exactly how the flames sparked.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office said several roads had reopened Monday.
“Stay out of the area if you don’t need to be there,” the Sheriff’s Office tweeted. “Weather is improving and will allow more aerial firefighting opportunities but can’t if drones are up.”
Additional fire crews, including a larger team, were arriving Monday. The American Red Cross had opened shelters for evacuees.
The National Weather Service had posted a red flag warning for wind, heat and low humidity in the region over the weekend, with smoke from wildfires affecting air quality west of the Cascades.
After months of dry weather with record-breaking high temperatures, rain is expected to return Friday. Air quality improved for much of the region Monday, but smoke was expected to hang around until Friday, the National Weather Service said.
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