Authorities ordered evacuation plans for several communities in Oregon and Montana as flames approached, while firefighters at Yellowstone National Park prepared for another blowup of a blaze threatening a hotel-campground complex.
Fire crews in Washington, Idaho, Utah and California also battled wildfires blackening thousands of acres Thursday.In southern Oregon, a lightning-sparked fire shot flames 100 feet into the sky less than a mile from a subdivision north of Grants Pass, said Kathy Aplin of the Oregon Department of Forestry.
The blaze doubled in size Thursday to 1,200 acres, prompting state officials Thursday night to order evacuation plans for the subdivision of about 1,000 residents.
"There are ashes falling just like rain on our deck," said Helen McCall, who lives at the Grants Pass city limits, about two miles south of the fire.
In northeast Oregon, the growing Ward Canyon fire prompted officials to order evacuation plans for the tiny town of Troy, near the Washington line.
The blaze expanded to 5,000 acres Thursday, crossing the Grand Ronde River and burning 15 unoccupied structures, mostly hunting cabins, Aplin said.
Effie Rozier of the Red Cross said Troy is a "motel and a restaurant" with about 50 residents scattered nearby.
In both communities, either state fire officials or the county sheriff could order evacuations if conditions worsened.
Forest fires also were burning out of control just east of Grants Pass near the towns of Rogue River and Medford, in Crater Lake National Park and south of Pendleton in eastern Oregon.
Near Grants Pass, firefighters using bulldozers to clear a firebreak early Thurday came upon the secluded home of Pam and Will Abbott, 200 yards from the flames.
"It was just like something out of science-fiction movie," Mrs. Abbott said. "At 3 a.m. the floodlights poured in from two giant bulldozers. We are scared out of our wits. We just took pictures of every room of our house and packed our clothes."
But the house was saved, Aplin said.
Residents of Maxville, Mont., a town of two dozen homes about 90 miles southwest of Helena, were told to prepare for possible evacuation as fire engulfed more than 5,000 acres of heavy timber and forced closure of the main road through the area, U.S. Forest Service officials said.
Firefighters battling another 30,000-acre fire in south-central Montana were trying to prevent flames from moving closer to Cooke City and Silver Gate, two Montana communities near Yellowstone.
"We have about a 30 to 40 percent chance that we would have to evacuate today" from Cooke City and Silver Gate, said David Liebersbach, incident commander on the Storm Creek fire.
The southern edge of the fire was about 4 miles north of Cooke City Friday morning and a rocky ridge with little vegetation stood between the fire and the town, Liebersbach said.
In northwest Wyoming, wind was down overnight and fires in Yellowstone National Park did not appear to make much overnight progress, said park spokeswoman Joan Anzelmo. But she said officials were checking to see if lightning during the night caused any new fires.
Six of the park's 12 campgrounds were closed and the west entrance was closed during the morning.
A 108,000-acre blaze in the park moved to within a quarter-mile of the Canyon hotel and campground complex Thursday, but firefighters turned the flames away using backfires, or fires intentionally set to burn up fuel.
Park spokeswoman Amy Vanderbilt said the threat to the 600 cabins and other buildings in the area abated before sunset.