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Precipitation helps slow growth of wildfires in Oregon, Washington

Crews battle the 5 Mile Fire in northeastern Oregon. The blaze was about 95 percent contained by Friday morning. (Inciweb)
John Killen | By John Killen |
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on August 15, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Rain and high humidity around much of the Pacific Northwest has helped firefighters who have been battling blazes all over Oregon and Washington. Officials report that most of the blazes grew little since Thursday and crews are making progress toward containing them.

The Associated Press is reporting that there were 6,000 lightning strikes in Oregon Thursday, but most of them were east of the Cascades. And the 18 new fires that flared up Thursday were mostly 6 acres or less.

Here's a look at some of the more significant fires still burning.

Oregon fires:

South Fork Complex: As of Friday morning, this blaze near John Day was up to 64,767 acres and was 50 percent contained. That's up from 40 percent contained Thursday. It is the second-largest fire burning in Oregon right now and 715 people are fighting the blaze. Crews are making good progress securing the perimeter and they are being helped by rain and higher humidity. A Level 1 (go) evacuation order remains in place for the area south of U.S. 26, west of 21 Road and east of42 Road.
Somers Fire: Burning about 30 miles northeast of Enterprise, this blaze was at 27,000 acres Friday morning and is now 35 percent contained. It is burning in grass and timber and heavy dead and down fuels from past burns. It is also being fueled in some areas by buried propane tanks in hunting camps. Much of this fire is in inaccessible terrain in the Hells Canyon Wilderness Area. There are 325 personnel fighting the blaze, which was started by lightning on Aug. 3. Rain and humidity have helped slow the fire.
5 Mile Fire: This blaze is about 20 miles northeast of Enterprise in the Imnaha River drainage. It's about 1,000 acres and is burning in steep terrain. Grass and timber are fueling it, but heavy rain in the area Thursday afternoon was a big help to the 44 firefighters working on the blaze. It is 95 percent contained.
Bald Sisters Fire: Another lightning-caused fire, this blaze is burning about 12 miles east of Prairie City and is 0 percent contained. As of Friday morning, it was at 1,108 acres and fire line construction is about 50 percent complete. Moderate to heavy rain helped prevent it from growing overnight.

Washington fires:

Carlton Complex: Washington's largest fire -- at 256,108 acres -- is in the patrol and mop up phase. It continues to smoke and flare, but is 96 percent contained. The fire was one of the most destructive in state history, consuming about 300 homes and destroying critical infrastructure after starting because of a lightning strike on July 14. The fire is five miles southwest of Okanogan and seven miles south of Twisp.
Chiwaukum Complex: Burning near Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth, this fire is at 14,198 acres Friday morning and is 70 percent contained. Burning in grand fir, pine, silver fir and mountain hemlock, it is creeping and smoldering after rainfall overnight. Like many other fires in the Pacific Northwest this summer, it was started by lightning in mid-July.

-- The Oregonian