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August 11, 2013 at 11:52 AM

6,000-acre lightning fire in Chelan County threatening 150 homes

A lightning fire in Chelan County Friday night has grown  to roughly 6,000 acres and is threatening about 150 residences.

Of those 150, about 80 residences have either been evacuated or been issued an evacuation warning because of the Milepost 10 fire, said Sarah Foster, a public information officer for the Washington Incident Management Team No. 1.

Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste ordered statewide resources Saturday afternoon to assist in firefighting efforts, and seven additional wildland strike teams are helping Chelan County Fire District 1 firefighters quell the blaze.

In addition to local resources, about 350 firefighters are on the scene, along with nearly 50 engines, seven water trucks, four helicopters and a few air tankers dropping fire retardant, Foster said. That force could increase as teams assess the damage and determine if more teams are needed.

While rain Saturday night helped slow the fire’s progress, lightning came along with it, which helped spread it farther, Foster said. The fire is “growing pretty actively,” she said, and teams are keeping a close eye on its progress, especially where it could affect  homes and power lines.

The next few days’ weather will play a big role in how quickly the fire can be controlled, Foster said, and more thunderstorms are in the forecast. When evacuated families will be able to move back to their homes isn’t yet clear, she said.

A spokesman from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest said the weekend brought more than 7,400 lightning strikes throughout Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Franklin counties, and also caused a handful of smaller fires across the state.

Two were reported Saturday in the national forest, one near the Leavenworth Ski Hill and the other on Dinkleman Ridge, about six miles west of Entiat. Firefighters have both under control.

Another two were detected north of the Yakama Indian Reservation and about 10 miles south of Rimrock Lake. One has burned roughly 60 acres and another is estimated to be between 50 and 200 acres, said Roland Giller, a public information officer for Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. A separate fire nine miles west of Tieton was estimated to be about five to six acres.

Officials expect to find more fires in the area as the weather continues.

Comments | Topics: Chelan County, fire, lightning fire

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