Firefighters near control of Eastern Washington blazes
Firefighters began mop-up yesterday on the two largest wildfires burning in Eastern Washington, and crews neared full containment on two...
Firefighters began mop-up yesterday on the two largest wildfires burning in Eastern Washington, and crews neared full containment on two other major fires in that part of the state.
The Harker Canyon fire about nine miles west of Davenport, Lincoln County, was 60 percent contained at nearly 1,570 acres yesterday, said Wade Alonzo, a fire information officer.
About 300 firefighters fortified fire lines and began putting out hot spots within 300 feet of the perimeter. At times crews were on their knees feeling the ground with their hands and unearthing things such as stumps that could cause flare-ups, Alonzo said.
Thermal detection devices will eventually be used to scan the area for additional heat sources, he said.
Fire lines held despite a storm Friday that brought winds of 30 mph and gusts to 40 mph.
Firefighters were temporarily pulled off the fire when the windstorm hit, but the temperature also dropped 30 degrees and the humidity shot up to 30 percent. Anticipating the wind, crews earlier in the day lighted backfires in an effort to burn out fuels ahead of the advancing flames.
The Harker Canyon fire, burning across grass, sagebrush and tree-filled ravines about 35 miles west of Spokane, started Wednesday.
Residents who had been evacuated from 35 homes have been allowed to return home.
In Spokane County, winds as high as 60 mph were reported Friday, with lightning and downed power lines sparking more than two dozen small fires, including one that destroyed five mobile homes at Silver Lake west of Spokane, the Spokesman-Review reported. Firefighters and rain took care of most of those fires.
In southeastern Washington near Pomeroy, Garfield County, fire officials had worried about the potential for the School fire to grow larger, but the storm also helped alleviate that. It brought rain and cooler temperatures, mostly at the north end of the 48,500-acre wildfire. The moisture allowed crews to work closer to the fire, said Kris Erikson, fire information officer.
The fire, burning in steep, rough ground, was 40 percent contained. Crews focused on digging 15 miles of fire lines around the southeast portion of the fire near Pataha Creek Drainage and Stentz Spring Recreation Residence.
About 1,400 firefighters were assigned to the fire, and about 100 residences remain evacuated.
The fire has already burned 109 residences, along with 106 outbuildings. Most of those buildings burned last weekend, and include a mix of modest summer cabins and full-time residences, said Barrie McVey, a fire spokeswoman.
In coming days, state fire crews are expected to turn over mop-up operations to local firefighters in three other large Eastern Washington wildfires.
The 735-acre Lick Creek fire near Cle Elum, Kittitas County, on the east slope of the Cascades, was 90 percent contained yesterday. The 1,150-acre Dirtyface fire near Lake Wenatchee was 80 percent contained.
Full containment was expected this weekend for both fires.
The Burnt Bread fire in north-central Washington, about 17 miles southeast of Tonasket, was 100 percent contained at about 1,350 acres, as was a 6,000-acre fire burning in south-central Washington near Richland in the Hanford Reach National Monument north of the Columbia River.
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