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Originally published July 27, 2013 at 7:25 PM | Page modified July 28, 2013 at 5:03 PM

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Fire near Goldendale doubles in size to more than 17,000 acres

Two large wildfires continue to burn in Central Washington, triggering highway closures and evacuations as more than a thousand firefighters battled flames that threatened more than 200 homes.

Seattle Times staff and news services

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A wildfire burning in Klickitat County has almost doubled in size since Saturday, now covering more than 17,000 acres.

While firefighters made progress in containing the fire on its west flank, the blaze spread to the east. Steep terrain has made fighting the fire difficult, but cooler temperatues and higher relative humidity have helped firefighters working to contain the blaze. On Sunday afternoon, the fire was reported 15 percent contained.

Highway 97 between Toppenish and Goldendale was still closed Sunday because of the blaze. The fire is 15 miles northeast of Goldendale.

Nearly 1,200 firefighters were battling the fire along the top of Satus Pass, which threatened about 180 homes, but as of Saturday night, none had been damaged.

The Klickitat County sheriff ordered the homes evacuated.

In Chelan County, a brush fire south of Wenatchee at Colockum Pass grew to an estimated 2,000 acres and threatened about 60 residences.

Evacuations were in place, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The cause of the fire, which started Saturday, is unknown.

Two helicopters and an airplane were dropping water and fire retardant on the Wenatchee blaze. About 100 firefighters from Chelan and Douglas counties as well as the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) were working on the fire. No injuries have been reported.

High temperatures and 30 mph winds were making it difficult to protect homes and cabins in the area, said Chelan County Fire Chief Bill Neckels.

Closer to Seattle, a smaller blaze on the south side of Mount Si prompted officials to close the Mount Si trail system Saturday as two helicopters flew over the steep terrain, dropping water on the flames.

The DNR said 50 firefighters made progress in containing the 12-acre blaze, which on Saturday was creeping up the side of the steep, heavily wooded mountain.

Water dropped by the choppers slowed the blaze in the tree tops and kept flames mostly on the ground, where ground crews can more easily control their spread, a spokesman said. Firefighters found an old road grade above the fire, which will help them create a fire line.

The fire, which is on DNR land, isn’t expected to threaten any homes or lead to evacuations, officials said.

Officials said prospects look good for making more progress on Sunday, when 75 firefighters from DNR and Eastside Fire & Rescue will be on the scene.

The cause of the fire, which began near 444th Avenue Southeast and Southeast Mount Si Road, is under investigation.

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