By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) - Emergency officials confronting a cluster of wildfires with limited resources in eastern Washington state enlisted the help of local farmers to help battle flames that have destroyed about two dozen buildings near Spokane, authorities said on Monday.

As of Monday morning, three blazes burning largely unchecked around the outskirts of Spokane, the state's second-largest city, had collectively charred about 13,000 acres (5,260 hectares) of dry brush, grass and timber, with zero percent containment, officials said.

The blazes all erupted on Sunday, stoked by extremely hot, dry weather and gusty winds, as authorities scrambled to amass sufficient firefighting forces to meet the sudden threat, recruiting farmers and other volunteers with bulldozers to join the effort.


Cooler temperatures, rising humidity and diminished winds were expected to help crews gain some ground on Monday, as firefighting reinforcements arrived in the area, said Jeff Sevigney, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol.

"We're hoping to capitalize on that today," he said.

At least 10 homes and numerous outbuildings were leveled on Sunday south of Spokane by the so-called Yale Fire, according to Sevigney.

A separate blaze dubbed the Hart Road Fire gutted 11 to 15 structures, including several homes, on Sunday in the Cayuse Cove community west of Spokane, Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers said.

He added that an undetermined number of homes and buildings were believed to have been lost in the nearby town of Wellpinit on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

A third, smaller fire just to the northeast of Spokane had died down since Sunday and posed less of a threat, Magers said.

Spokane, with a population of more than 200,000 residents, lies about 20 miles (32 km) west of Idaho and about 90 miles (145 km) south of the Canadian border.

The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane reported at least two other wildfires have erupted in eastern Washington, one of which has scorched about 22,000 acres (8,900 hectares) in Franklin County, about 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Spokane.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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