By Matt McKnight
BICKLETON, Washington (Reuters) – Fast-growing wildfires forced residents to evacuate the rural stretch of Klickitat County in southern Washington state on Saturday after burning more than 30,000 acres in less than 24 hours.
The Newell Road Wildfire has destroyed several buildings in the area and is threatening homes, farms, crops and livestock, solar and wind farms and pipelines, regional emergency officials said.
The fire is also moving toward the Yakama Indian Reservation, Allen Lebovitz, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Natural Resources, said in an interview in Bickleton, a community of about 80 people about 120 miles (190 km) east of Portland, Oregon.
“Very difficult terrain to put out the fire,” said Lebovitz. “We were under a red flag alert. It was the firefighters’ worst nightmare as the humidity dropped drastically. The wind was picking up. So the fire spread very quickly.”
Firefighters from across the county have descended on the blaze burning just north of the Columbia River, which marks the state’s border with Oregon. Officials have not said what started the fire, and there have been no reports of injuries or deaths.