(AP) Strong winds in the Columbia River Gorge fanned an Oregon wildfire burning on 3,000 acres, forcing the evacuation of a number of homes Monday while other residents waited to hear if they were going to have to leave.
The Government Flats Complex of fires was burning in hilly country near The Dalles, a Columbia River city that's a favorite hangout for windsurfers. Officials said 50 structures had been ordered evacuated. It was not clear how many of those were homes.
It is the latest wildfire to grab the attention of regional fire crews as hot, dry weather persists across the West, keeping conditions ripe.
In Idaho, authorities slowly were allowing evacuees to return to homes that days ago were deemed at risk from a big and erratic wildfire burning near the affluent resort towns of Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley.
The Blaine County sheriff ended the mandatory evacuation order for up to 250 homes. Most of those residences are in subdivisions on the east side of the main highway connecting these communities and are farthest from the 160-square-mile Beaver Creek Fire, which was ignited by lightning Aug. 7.
About 1,150 firefighters, including elite teams known as hotshots, looked to reinforce fire lines with the help of 14 helicopters and likely other aircraft. The fire was about 8 percent contained.
In California, a blaze forced hundreds of Butte County residents from homes some 60 miles north of Sacramento, while another fire kept residents of a southern Sierra Nevada town on edge.
In Utah, fire officials lifted an evacuation Monday morning for about 100 residents in Rockport Estates and Rockport Ranches in Summit County, about 45 miles east of Salt Lake City.
They had been displaced since Tuesday when lightning ignited a fast-moving blaze that burned seven houses and one yurt in those subdivisions. The 3.1-squre mile fire was 90 percent contained.
Utah's biggest blaze, the Patch Springs Fire southwest of Salt Lake City, was 45 percent contained. The 50-square-mile blaze hasn't grown since Saturday.
The Columbia River Gorge is known for its strong winds which is why it is a favorite among windsurfers and kiteboarders and on Monday those winds fanned the Government Flats Complex of fires burning south of The Dalles.
Dozens of homeowners had been told to prepare for evacuation. By late Monday afternoon, authorities had ordered the evacuation of 50 structures.
"It's a very flammable fuel right now, because it's been dried with lack of moisture, and it's also been heated from the heat coming up the slope," said fire supervisor Kelly Niles, overlooking a charred grassy field. "This stuff, here it's just ready to explode."
The Government Flats fire complex was 12 percent contained, with full containment projected for Sept. 1. Two structures burned Sunday afternoon, officials said.
One resident, 74-year-old Jake Grossmiller, packed up some photos, valuables and clothes for several days in case the evacuation order came.
He set up a sprinkler in his front yard and kept an eye on the smoke rising behind the hills.
"I'm feeling pretty safe," he said.