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Hot, dry weather encouraging western wildfires

Published: Monday, July 14, 2014 12:33 p.m. CST
Caption
(AP Photo/South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership)
In this photo provided by South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership, smoke from a fire is seen Sunday, July 13, 2014, near Moccasin Hill, Ore. Officials say a fast-growing wildfire in southern Oregon has destroyed homes and forced dozens of evacuations.

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — A Southern Oregon wildfire that destroyed six homes and 14 other buildings spread during the cooler overnight hours Monday as crews worked to contain the flames.

Fire spokeswoman Erica Hupp said a plane was up early Monday to estimate how widely the fire had spread. It was last measured at 4 1/2 square miles.

Hupp said authorities were trying to determine whether anybody had been hurt. About 100 people were evacuated from a rural subdivision named Moccasin Hill.

The fire began Sunday afternoon near the ranching town of Sprague River, about 25 miles northeast of Klamath Falls. There was no lightning, so an investigation into the cause is underway, she said.

Many residents in the longstanding subdivision northeast of Klamath Falls keep horses and cattle on plots of 3 to 5 acres, and neighbors have been stepping in to shelter both stock and pets, she said

The blaze is just one of several major fires in the West.

In Northern California, authorities say a fire that was sparked by exhaust from a truck delivering supplies to an illegal marijuana plot has grown to nearly 7 square miles.

A 27-year-old Sacramento man, Freddie Alexander Smoke, was arrested on suspicion of causing the blaze.

Fire officials said the Bully Fire in forested land in Shasta County had burned through 4,400 acres as of Monday morning. It remained 15 percent contained. The fire has destroyed eight homes and is threatening 15 others.

All evacuations have been lifted.

In Central California, containment of a fire that charred 2.5 square miles in the Sequoia National Forest increased to 60 percent.

Meanwhile, the Mills Canyon Fire burning in central Washington has grown to 35 square miles.

Firefighters strengthened containment lines around the fire near Entiat (EHN'-tee-aht) on Sunday, but they're still worried about the potential for dry lightning and wind to kick up the flames on Monday.

Three dozen homes have been evacuated and residents of another 500 houses have been told to be prepared to leave if the fire gets closer.

Hupp said the fire near Sprague River was worrisome because it had spread overnight and because temperatures were expected to be in the 90s Monday in a region struggling through its second year of drought.

"There's still a lot of the fire that isn't lined," she said.

The weather forecast calls for dry, hot afternoons in Washington and Oregon for the next week.

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