- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) - A helicopter pilot fighting a wildfire in eastern Washington walked away from a crash landing Monday.

Heather Lee of Walla Walla County Emergency Management told the Union-Bulletin (https://is.gd/e5mPTN ) the helicopter suffered a mechanical failure.

Meanwhile, Interstate 90 remained closed in both directions in Grant County, east of the Columbia River, because of another brush fire.

Fire officials say the brush fire 9 miles east of Walla Walla near Blue Creek and Klicker Mountain has burned more than 2 square miles and destroyed at least one home since starting just after noon Monday.

About 50 homes in the area were briefly evacuated Monday afternoon. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Renae Crippen of the Blue Mountain Interagency Fire Center said no injuries have been reported, but more structures may be threatened.

Fire crews were attacking the blaze from the air with multiple air tankers and helicopters.

Her center in eastern Washington is getting reports of new brush fires daily, Crippen said.

The Washington State Patrol closed Interstate 90 between Vantage and George, Washington, Monday afternoon. The patrol said it was still closed early Tuesday morning.

The Grant County sheriff’s office reported a trailer full of hay had burned on the road next to the interstate. No injuries have been reported, and 200 people were on scene fighting the fire.

The residents of 50 homes have been told to prepare to leave if the fire comes their way. The homes were briefly evacuated Monday afternoon.

On Friday in Southern California, a wind-whipped fire northeast of Los Angeles destroyed 20 vehicles on Interstate 15. There were no serious injuries, but dozens of people had to abandon their cars.

The Washington brush fire started Sunday night and reignited Monday afternoon, closing the interstate.

There was heavy smoke and fire across the freeway, the state patrol said. It was unclear how long it would be closed.

Another fire briefly closed U.S. Highway 2 in both directions near Monroe late Monday afternoon. Traffic was detoured around the fire while the roadway was blocked for about an hour, the Washington Department of Transportation said.

The brush fire is burning just west of State Route 9 and about 25 miles northeast of Seattle.

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