90 homes threatened by Columbia Gorge wildfire

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by KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on August 27, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 27 at 5:46 PM

LYLE, Wash. -- Authorities said 90 homes appear threatened by a wildfire burning on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge and residents in 40 of those homes have already been forced to evacuate.

The residents were all on edge, including Cathy Holguin, who found a warning note on her door. “It's pretty creepy… I hope it doesn’t jump the river,” she said.

With the unpredictable weather conditions, no one in the area felt like they were out of the danger zone.

“It was one of the windiest days of the year, it was blowing at least 50 miles an hour,” said John Grim, waiting to hear if he has to evacuate, too.

The fire was sparked by a downed power line around 10 a.m., Thursday, according to Jen Kevil of the Columbia Gorge Natural Scenic Area. A strong wind in the gorge fueled the fire and it quickly grew to more than 1,200 acres by early Friday morning, according to Kevil.

So far, one barn and two outbuildings had been destroyed by the fast-moving fire.

There were mandatory evacuations from Mile 0 to Mile 8 along Highway 142 and in the Fisher Hill and Canyon Road areas. Highway 142 was also closed north of Lyle.

In addition, a voluntary evacuation included the east side of the Klickitat River, over fears that the fire could jump the river.

The winds died down Thursday night, allowing firefighters to make some strides in controlling the blaze. In addition to ground units, there were also three air tankers and two helicopters doing bucket drops.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter at the Lyle Lion's Club for people displaced by the fire.

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