WENATCHEE, Wash. -- A wildfire that has burned across 104 square miles of grass, sagebrush and timber in two central Washington counties churned to the southwest Wednesday, burning to the edge of a wind farm and forcing authorities to order a new round of evacuations.
Firefighters already faced extreme fire behavior, with dry fuels and high temperatures, and were on watch for gusty winds and the threat of lightning strikes from thunderstorms expected through Thursday.
The fire is currently at 8 percent containment, according to fire spokesman Peter Frenzen.
There were 75 homes ordered to evacuate Wednesday morning, but evacuation zones are growing so quickly it's difficult to keep trackof how many homes are in danger. This online map shared by the state's Department of Natural Resources Fire Twitter account (@waDNR_fire) shows the status of evacuation zones.
Related: Statewide wildfire information
Firefighters made progress on stopping the fire's spread, except in the southwest corner, Frenzen said. In addition, thick smoke prevented air tankers and helicopters from dropping retardant and water on critical areas of extreme fire growth.
"We have 400 firefighters on the ground and air support from above," said Frenzen. "We are concentrating our resources on the south and west flanks of the fire."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the fire that is burning in Chelan and Kittitas counties.
The fire has destroyed three homes and several outbuildings. Due to the fire's growth, Frenzen said fire managers also would establish a satellite fire camp in Kittitas County for firefighters to eat and rest each evening, to allow them to avoid driving to the main fire camp south of Wenatchee.
The National Weather Service also has issued a red-flag warning for extreme weather conditions with the possibility of thunderstorms and lightning on the east slope of the Cascade Range.
Residents in the Colockum Road area south of Malaga got the green light to return home Tuesday night, ending a four day evacuation. A Level 3 evacuation is in place for a number of areas, including Upper Park Creek, Secret Canyon, Hill Top, upper sections of Little Caribou, Sheep Creek and Trail Creek. Level 3 means "get out."
Cora Edwards, who lives about 25 miles southeast of Wenatchee, has noticed she's having trouble breathing.
"My throat is sore from breathing in the smoke and it's difficult to talk," she said.
Mile Marker 28 Fire
Near Goldendale, firefighters gained ground on a blaze that had closed U.S. Highway 97 for days.
The Mile Marker 28 Fire was 60 percent contained. The Washington Department of Transportation reopened the highway Wednesday, with pilot cars leading vehicles through the fire area. Delays of up to one hour were expected.
Crews built a fire line around the flames that charred about 40 square miles near Satus Pass, about 15 miles northeast of Goldendale, fire spokesman Dam Omdal said.
More than 1,300 firefighters were mopping up hot spots and strengthening fire lines.
Statewide burn ban in effect
The Department of Natural Resources has issued a statewide burn ban on all lands under DNR protection, effective through September 30. The ban applies to all forestlands in Washington State, except federal lands, and prohibits campfires in all state, local and private campgrounds.