Crews gain on WA fire, evacuation lifted for some

By SHANNON DININNY | September 11, 2011 | 5:20 AM EDT

Peter Pelletier, center, evaluates the condition of his alpacas with two volunteers, Lynn Masters and Ted Hoff, at the Klickitat County Fairgrounds, Friday, Sept. 9, 2011, in Goldendale, Wash Pelletier was forced to evacuate his home and the alpacas he raises for fiber due to the nearby wildfire that has already burned 64 buildings. (AP Photo/Shannon Dininny)

GOLDENDALE, Wash. (AP) — Residents of many of the 200 homes threatened by a 4,200-acre blaze are returning home as firefighters gain ground on a blaze near Washington state's Satus Pass.

The fire was burning 20 miles north of the Columbia River and about 10 miles north of the city of Goldendale was 30 percent contained as of Saturday evening.

Fire officials say the blaze has burned nine home and about 55 other structures.

The fire started Wednesday along U.S. Highway 97 near a Greek Orthodox monastery. From there, it burned southeast of the highway through steep forested canyons and flat areas with dry grasses and thick stands of Ponderosa pines.

The fire remained under investigation, but it was believed to be human-caused.