View full sizeTwo firefighters battling the large blaze in central Washington state were injured on Wednesday as winds whipped up the flames.
One man suffered dehydration and another was burned on the face, said Mark Grassel, a spokesman for the incident management team.
The firefighter who was burned was working with an engine crew at the northwest edge of the fire when a tree torched. He was scorched while fleeing on foot. After being treated at the scene, he was taken to a local hospital and is now at home recovering.
Officials suspect the Taylor Bridge fire is connected to construction on the bridge and Highway 10. Washington state fire investigators said that welding sparks from Conway Construction may have caused the fire. The company, based in Ridgefield, Wash., came under fire last year in Portland. County and environmental regulators accused Conway of failing to keep debris laced with lead paint from falling into the Willamette River.
Since Monday, the Taylor Bridge fire has scorched nearly 23,000 acres, destroyed at least 60 homes, killed livestock and forced the evacuation of more than 400 people.
At noon on Thursday, some residents were told they could return home but advised to be prepared to leave again.
Officials have closed U.S. 97 south of the junction with Highway 970 — the Lauderdale Junction — along with several county roads. Highway 10 remains closed as well.
About 900 firefighters and support staff are assigned to the Taylor Bridge fire, which is 25 percent contained. Grassel said crews made progress digging in containment lines by hand overnight on Wednesday.
“They had a really good night,” he said.
Their priority on Thursday was building lines on the northwest side of the fire. Flames are running through timber, grass and understory, with some torching in trees and short-range spotting.
– Lynne Terry