LEAVENWORTH, Wash. — After a week of battling wildfires in eastern Washington, fire crews caught a few sprinkles of rain Tuesday afternoon, while counterparts in Northern California fought wind-whipped flames threatening half a dozen small towns and hundreds of homes.
The sprinkles came from a cold front on its way from western Washington that was expected to bring nearly an inch of rain to Leavenworth on the eastern side of the Cascade range.
"Yeah, we're happy," said fire spokeswoman Mary Bell Lunsford. "It'll just help put the fire out."
The next few days will bring cooler temperatures and precipitation to Oregon and Washington, the National Weather Service reported. Winds reaching 30 mph are possible in California, Nevada and southern Idaho.
Nearly 28,900 firefighters and support personnel fought 42 major fires burning on more than 350,000 acres across the West on Tuesday, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, reported.
Fire activity increased in California, where nine fires were burning on more than 50,000 acres, including two that threatened thousands of homes and forced evacuations.
Residents of Priest and Coulterville were ordered to evacuate as the 10,265-acre Creek fire flared out of its containment line and neared more than 3,000 homes in its path, said Sheryl Tankersley, spokeswoman for the California governor's Office of Emergency Services.
More than 50 people chased from the 3,155-acre Leonard fire went to a Red Cross shelter set up at the local high school. The fire threatened up to 300 homes in San Andreas, fire officials said.