Dry weather keeps wildfires burning in Washington

LEAVENWORTH, Wash. (AP) - Fire managers prepared for extreme fire conditions Tuesday, as hot, dry weather kept several wildfires burning in Washington.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning Tuesday, advising that strong winds and low relative humidity could create hazardous fire weather conditions in parts of central and eastern Washington. The warning was in effect until Tuesday night.

Weather conditions allowed two fires in central Washington to grow, including one blaze that was pushing closer to Highway 97 between Blewett Pass and Leavenworth.

Residents of about 15 homes near Highway 97 have been told to evacuate, and dozens more have been advised to be ready to leave, said Nick Mickel, a spokesman for Chiwaukum Complex fire burning near Leavenworth.

"There's some concern of it burning up to and over Highway 97," Mickel said of the 65-acre Hansel fire.

A lightning-sparked wildfire burning about 10 miles north of Ellensburg was about 10 percent contained Tuesday. That Snag Canyon fire has destroyed more than a dozen structures, including six homes or cabins, and it threatens dozens of other homes.

Deputies were escorting residents into the area on a case-by-case basis, but the most serious evacuation notice for about 80 homes was still in effect Tuesday, said Jill Beedle, a spokeswoman for the Kittitas County Emergency Operations Center.

Wildfires have scorched an estimated 485 square miles in Washington state, and they burned an estimated 334 homes, the state Emergency Operations Center said Tuesday.

The state's largest fire burning in north central Washington was about 90 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon.