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Record wildfire in Washington state gets international, local help

SPOKANE, Wash. — As Washington state's wildfires burned into the record books Monday, calls for help were answered from far and near.

Fire managers from New Zealand and Australia arrived to help a ground campaign led by firefighters from across the West and augmented by U.S. soldiers.

The flames that claimed the lives of three firefighters, injured four others and burned 200 homes also inspired an outpouring of volunteers who have been invited for the first time in state history to help battle the blazes.

This fire response across the West has been overwhelmed by destructive blazes tearing through the tinder-dry region.

The biggest fire burning Monday was in Okanogan County on the Canadian border, where a group of five fires raging out of control became the largest in state history, scorching more than 400 square miles, fire spokesman Rick Isaacson said.

Lightning-sparked fires broke the state record, surpassing blazes that destroyed more than 300 homes in the same county last year.

"I'd like to set some different records," Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said.

The United States is in the midst of one of its worst fire seasons on record with about 11,600 square miles scorched so far. It's only the sixth-worst going back to 1960, but it's the most acreage burned by this date in a decade, so the ranking is sure to rise.

"It's only Aug. 24," Isaacson said. "In our district, we could see this go clear to the first of November."

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