by The Associated Press, September 5, 2017
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning across the U.S. West (all times local):
Firefighters have increased containment of a big Los Angeles wildfire from 30 percent to 70 percent.
The fire in the Verdugo Mountains burned around 11 square miles (28 square kilometers) since it erupted Friday and was spread by shifting winds. Crews working the blaze Tuesday are focusing on smoldering hotspots and extending containment lines.
Los Angeles fire spokesman Erik Scott says the number of destroyed single-family residences has increased to a total of five.
A growing wildfire near Portland has shut down a lengthy stretch of highway through the scenic Columbia River Gorge and rained ash down on the Oregon city.
Smoke from blazes choked the U.S. West on Tuesday from Seattle to Denver, leading to health warnings and road closures. Many school districts canceled sports practices and recess because of poor air quality.
The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, a federal agency that coordinates wildfire-fighting, says 80 large fires are burning on 2,200 square miles (5,700 square kilometers) in nine Western states.
The 7-square-mile (18-square-kilometer) fire east of Portland forced hundreds of evacuations and sent embers jumping over the Columbia River, sparking blazes in Washington state.
The wildfire grew rapidly late Monday and overnight, forcing authorities to scramble to get people out of communities in just minutes on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.
Wind-driven flames, hot temperatures and dry conditions are hampering firefighters across the West even after Labor Day, the unofficial end to a summer of devastating wildfires.
The dozens of fires burning across the West and Canada have blanketed the air with choking smoke from Oregon, where ash fell on the town of Cascade Locks, to Colorado, where health officials issued an air quality advisory alert.
A 14-square-mile (36-square-kilometer) fire in Montana's Glacier National Park emptied the park's busiest tourist spot as wind gusts drove the blaze toward the doorstep of a century-old lodge.
Outside California's Yosemite National Park, a wind-fueled fire made its way deeper into a grove of 2,700-year-old giant sequoia trees. Officials said the fire had gone through about half the grove, and had not killed any trees.
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