More Homes Evacuated Due to Threat of Fire in Central Washington

DRYDEN, Wash. (AP) -- A wind-blown wildfire that had forced hundreds to flee their homes grew to more than 11,000 acres early Wednesday as it moved into dry brush and grass in central Washington.

``The fire has potential to move quicker in those flashy fuels,'' fire information officer Robin DeMario said.

The blaze 20 miles northwest of Wenatchee had destroyed one home and damaged another residence and an outbuilding, fire information officer Robin DeMario said Wednesday. No one was injured.

DeMario said smoke from the fire forced crews to temporarily close U.S. 2 between Cashmere and Dryden.

The fire has forced hundreds from their homes, and residents had been told to leave two more canyons threatened by the fire. More than 1,500 firefighters were assigned to the human-caused blaze, which has been burning since Aug. 8.

A series of lightning storms elsewhere in central Washington ignited 18 fires Tuesday in the Okanogan and Wenatchee national forests. One of the largest, northwest of Twisp, grew to 600 acres.

Washington's largest blaze, a complex or group of three fires, had blackened a total of 47,390 acres near Lake Chelan. They were 85 percent contained.

Elsewhere, the northern California wildfire that destroyed 22 homes and two businesses in the historic gold mining town of French Gulch during the weekend had grown to nearly 10,000 acres Tuesday.

Officials reported the fire, which swept through French Gulf on Saturday, was 25 percent contained, with full containment expected late Friday. It had moved into an uninhabited area of forest.