Better weather may help contain OR, WA wildfires

Fires burning throughout the Pacific Northwest

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) – Cooler temperatures over the weekend helped firefighters contain the dozen large fires burning across Oregon.

But the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said Monday that more lightning with the potential to start more wildfires is in the forecast for northern central Oregon.

One fire burns on the east flank of the 368,000-acre Buzzard Complex in Riverside, Oregon, July 21, 2014 (Brooke Nyman, Oregon Cattlemen's Association)
One fire burns on the east flank of the 368,000-acre Buzzard Complex in Riverside, Oregon, July 21, 2014 (Brooke Nyman, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association)

On Sunday, fire managers lifted the rafting closure on the Deschutes River near Warm Springs after burning out a section of the Shaniko Butte fire.

And residents of 37 homes in the Ochoco Mountains near the community of Mitchell were allowed to return home after the danger from the Waterman Complex fires eased. But U.S. Highway 26 remains closed at the Ochoco Summit east of Prineville.

The Moccasin Hill fire, which burned 17 homes in an off-the-grid subdivision in Klamath County a week ago, is now fully contained.

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – Calmer winds and cooler temperatures are allowing firefighters to go on the offensive against a giant wildfire burning in Washington State.

Firefighter Kathleen Calvin looks around as she sits atop her fire truck while waiting to begin work as smoke from a wildfire fills the sky behind Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Winthrop, Wash. A wind-driven, lightning-caused wildfire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes Thursday and Friday, leaving behind solitary brick chimneys and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles in the scenic Methow Valley northeast of Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Firefighter Kathleen Calvin looks around as she sits atop her fire truck while waiting to begin work as smoke from a wildfire fills the sky behind Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Winthrop, Wash. A wind-driven, lightning-caused wildfire racing through rural north-central Washington destroyed about 100 homes Thursday and Friday, leaving behind solitary brick chimneys and burned-out automobiles as it blackened hundreds of square miles in the scenic Methow Valley northeast of Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Carlton Complex of fires in north-central Washington had grown to 379 square miles on Monday.

But fire spokesman Andrew Sanbri says there is optimism that fire crews can start containing the flames in the scenic Methow Valley.

Meanwhile, Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers says a man has died of an apparent heart attack will protecting his home from the flames. Rogers says 67-year-old Rob Koczewski was stricken while he and his wife were hauling water and digging fire lines on Saturday.

Rogers says Koczewski was a retired Washington State Patrol trooper and U.S. Marine.

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Jeff Barnard reported from Grants Pass, Oregon. Nicholas K. Geranios reported from Spokane, Washington.

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