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Washington blaze caused by burning wind turbine now 30 percent contained

by Jim Ryan, The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) |

A southern Washington wildfire caused by melting sections of a wind turbine that fell to the ground after the turbine’s generator caught fire is 30 percent contained, officials said Monday morning.

The wildfire started Saturday and was previously reported to have grown to between 350 and 500 acres by that evening. Fire officials have revised that figure to 242 acres, citing more accurate mapping.

A small number of homes remain under level three — “go” — evacuations. None of them has been damaged in the blaze, dubbed the Juniper Fire, and no one’s been hurt.

The fire response unfolded after smoke was reported to be coming from the generator of a wind turbine south of Bickleton in Klickitat County Saturday afternoon, according to a new release from Klickitat County Emergency Management.

Fire engulfed the turbine 300 feet above the ground, causing melted pieces to fall to the ground, igniting grass and brush, according to the release.

There were a couple flare-ups on the south end of the fire Sunday, officials said, and firefighters continued to battle hot spots Monday morning.

About 200 people in total are part of the wildfire response, fire officials said.

A sustainable energy company named AVANGRID owns the turbine that burned.

“They are aware of the fire and they appreciate the work of the local fire district and responding firefighters for the work they have done,” fire officials said in a Facebook post.

Few large wildfires have cropped up in Oregon and southwest Washington so far this summer, due in part to authorities’ efforts to corral and extinguish the blazes before they take off.