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Western Blazes Being Tamed

Work to encircle wildfires in Oregon and Washington continued Tuesday, while firefighters mopped up California's largest blaze.

In mountains 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, crews were finishing off the so-called Willow fire, which singed 63,486 acres after beginning Aug. 28.

It sent gigantic clouds of smoke across the Mojave desert, putting merchants in the resort town of Big Bear on edge, reports CBS Station KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.

The blaze is burning in the San Bernardino Mountains and high desert. There are about 2,800 firefighters on the line. Suppression cost to date is $8.5 million.

Officials don't expect to have it under control until Friday. The fire has destroyed 19 structures, including several homes, and 52 vehicles.

A wildfire is spreading out of control on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in north-central Oregon. The fire started Sunday afternoon and spread quickly through mixed grass and timber land, reports CBS Affiliate KOIN-TV in Portland, Ore.

Two-thousand acres have already burned. At least one home is threatened by the fire, which is burning about half-a-mile away. The so-called Rainbow Quarry Fire is believe to be human-caused. State Police arson crews have been dispatched to investigate. Two 10-person hot shot crews and about 300 people are battling the blaze.

And in Washington state, firefighters battling 30 mph winds have brought a 2,500-acre wildfire along the Columbia River gorge under control. That fire forced the evacuation of about 200 people.

More than 10 houses were evacuated briefly and traffic on Washington 14 along the river was detoured for a time because of heavy smoke late Sunday. No buildings were lost, said Rob Harper, a spokesman for the state Department of Emergency Management.

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Sixty-five firefighters completed a buffer zone around roughly six miles of the fire perimeter using bulldozers and hand tools, he said Monday.

About 50 out-of-county firefighters returned to their homes Monday night, incident commander Don Perry said.

The fire was estimated at 3,500 acres until Monday morning, when a closer look revealed large unburned areas within the perimeter, Harper added.

The fire started Sunday afternoon at the intersection of Washington 14 and U.S. 97 and burned brush and grass in a swath six miles to the east along the river toward the Goldendale aluminum plant and John Day Dam.

Neither operation was affected, said Larry Luloff, a Klickitat County emergency management official.

The fire charred the outside of a building or two, including the historic Sam Hill's Country Store beside a replica of Stonehenge near the intersection. Damage to the store was estimated at approximately $3,000, Harper said.

Fence posts, telephone poles and 75 fruit trees valued at $30 each also were destroyed, raising the total loss to more than $25,000, he said.

One firefighter and one civilian were treated for minor cases of smoke inhalation Sunday, and a firefighter was treated at a hospital for appendicitis Monday, Harper said.

Cause of the fire remained under investigation.

Meanwhile, firefighters in Nevada were fighting several blazes that have burned 82,010 acres.

Causes of both the Southern California and Washington blazes remained under investigation.

Blazes in Montana, Utah and Idaho were contained last week.

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