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Monday, July 9, 2007 - Page updated at 10:20 PM

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Wenatchee fire evacuees allowed to return home

Seattle Times staff reporter

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VANESSA MCVAY / SPECIAL TO THE SEATTLE TIMES

As a hillside smolders in the distance, a plane drops fire retardant near homes on Burch Mountain Road near Wenatchee Sunday afternoon. Fireworks may have sparked the fire, which consumed 5,800 acres.

Emergency officials allowed evacuated residents of more than 250 homes to return late Sunday after a fire northwest of Wenatchee consumed 5,800 acres.

Because of heavy smoke, it is unclear how many homeowners returned, said Rick Isaacson, spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. A Red Cross shelter was open Sunday night.

By Sunday afternoon, fire had damaged three or four homes, though none were lost. Winds gusting to 20-30 mph were pushing the fire to the north and east, away from houses, Isaacson said Sunday evening. There was no estimate when it would be contained, he said.

The fire started about 2:20 p.m. Saturday near Warm Springs Canyon, and by Sunday afternoon crews were arriving from around the state.

Chelan County Sheriff Mike Harum told The Wenatchee World that a man playing with fireworks may have sparked the fire and could be arrested for investigation of reckless burning.

On Sunday, approximately 200 firefighters were working on the blaze, as well as 30 fire engines. Air support was provided by four helicopters and three fire-retardant tankers. Incident Commander Keith Satterfield said crews worked hard in difficult conditions.

Elsewhere in the state on Sunday, a brush fire that started Saturday had burned 1,000 to 1,200 acres near the old mining town of Nighthawk, Okanogan County, near the Canadian border.

The fire, just west of Oroville, was burning in grass, sage and scattered timber on federal Bureau of Land Management land; no structures were threatened.

Its cause was not immediately available.

Seattle Times staff reporter Alex Fryer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or nbartley@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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