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Firefighters gain foothold against Wash. wildfire

John McDonald, with the Pasco Fire Department, put out hot spots in a wildfire near Yakima, Wash., yesterday. Three other firefighters were injured trying to flee their trapped truck. John McDonald, with the Pasco Fire Department, put out hot spots in a wildfire near Yakima, Wash., yesterday. Three other firefighters were injured trying to flee their trapped truck. (Gordon King/ Yakima Herald-Republic via Associated Press)
Associated Press / July 20, 2010

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YAKIMA, Wash. — Firefighters were gaining ground yesterday on a wildfire that burned across 15 square miles of dry grass and sagebrush in central Washington, as investigators began to examine how three firefighters were injured fleeing their truck in the flames.

The firefighters had driven down a road to protect a home that was threatened, but the fire came up too quickly and they were unable to turn around, said Christy Boisselle, a spokeswoman for West Valley Fire and Rescue.

They escaped with minor injuries after the blaze burned down to and jumped the dusty dirt road, where the remnants of the scorched firetruck remained.

About 200 firefighters were assigned to the blaze, with 100 more expected by the end of the day yesterday. It had burned 6,200 acres and was 15 percent contained.

Officials were investigating the cause.

The fire started Sunday afternoon about 10 miles west of downtown Yakima, an agricultural hub known for tree fruit, wine grapes, and hops for beer. The area around the fire is comprised of orchards and old farmhouses, as well as new homes.

Firefighters had said three homes and several outbuildings burned Sunday, but Boisselle was unable to confirm the damage.

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