Crews making gains on Washington wildfires
Lull in weather has helped temper new fire growth
Sunday, September 23, 2012
WENATCHEE — Firefighters are making progress in keeping several major wildfires in Washington state at bay, as a lull in weather has helped temper new fire growth, authorities said Sunday.
There were concerns Saturday that lightning storms and high winds would fuel blazes, but no lightning developed and the winds moderated, officials said.
Fire officials on Sunday confirmed that two mountain cabins run by the U.S. Forest Service have been destroyed by wildfires. They are Riders Cabin and the Table Mountain A-frame rental cabin, a popular destination for stargazers, snowmobilers and other recreationists located near Blewett Pass.
Lightning-sparked wildfires have burned thousands of acres of brush, grass and forest in Washington, and thousands of firefighters have been working for weeks to steer them away from hillside homes and communities.
"There's nothing to stir the fires up today," Matt Fugazzi, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Sunday. A weak cold front may bring winds on Tuesday, adding a level of concern, but it's not a particularly strong one, he added.
Alan Hoffmeister, a spokesman for the Wenatchee Complex fire which includes multiple blazes in Chelan County, said firefighters made good progress Saturday, and many of the fires within the complex saw little or no growth. That fire was about 30 percent contained and had burned about 66 square miles as of Sunday morning.
"We're sending a lot of our firefighters home today," Hoffmeister said Sunday. He said just under 200 homes near Mission Ridge are currently under mandatory evacuation.
But the wildfire threat for some homes in Chelan County is easing as firefighters report progress against blazes.
The Chelan County Sheriff's office said Saturday night that there was a reduced threat to homes in three areas — Sky Meadows, Brisky Canyon Road, and Camas Meadows — and cut the evacuation level to 1, meaning residents should be prepared to leave if the situation changes.
In southwest Washington, a fire burning nearly 14,000 acres on the south slope of Mount Adams has closed the Mt. Adams Wilderness and nearby forest areas. Fire officials say they're working to keep the fire from moving east onto the Yakama Nation.