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The Country's Largest Wildfire Is Burning In Washington State

Alissa Cordner
Northwest Team 8
Burnout operations near Powerline Road on the Range 12 Fire near the Tri-Cities, Washington.

Tri-Cities area residents woke up to a blood-red sunrise. The Range 12 Fire in southeast Washington has burned 175,000 acres and is 10 percent contained.

From the Benton City command post for the Range 12, smoke and charred hills surround most of town. About 250 homes are in jeopardy in the current fire footprint. About 400 firefighters, three helicopters and 34 engines are fighting it.

Some firefighters and land managers say they’re on edge because of predicted gusty winds and a red flag warning. The breeze is already kicking up, and firefighters worry that burned areas could pop up and jump the established fire lines.

Crews set a backfire Sunday night on Rattlesnake Mountain to keep the Range 12 fire from burning contaminated areas of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where plutonium was manufactured for World War II. The Range 12 is the largest wildfire on a list of fires managed by government agencies.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.