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July 14, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Mills Canyon fire grows; more storms expected

The Associated Press

ENTIAT, Chelan County — A wildfire burning in central Washington has grown to 35 square miles, fire officials said Monday.

Crews have strengthened containment lines around the fire near Entiat, but officials worried about the potential for dry lightning and wind to kick up the blaze.

Fire officials said Monday morning the blaze was 25 percent contained.

“We had a pretty good night last night,” said Danny O’Connor, a fire spokesman with an interagency team. “The lightning that was forecast to hit the fire missed us, fortunately.”

However, the National Weather Service said more thunderstorms were expected in the area later Monday.

Residents of several dozen homes have been told to evacuate. Officials notified residents of about 500 other homes to watch fire updates and be prepared to leave if necessary.

Officials said crews did good work protecting more than 100 houses along Highway 97A. On Saturday, they were working to protect 14 homes along Roaring Creek, near the fire’s northern edge.

Another priority was digging fire lines along the western edge to contain the blaze.

Crews are using about 10 aircraft to dump fire retardant or buckets of water. More than 1,000 firefighters are working on the blaze.

Monday’s focus will be on the southwest and northwest corners of the fire.

“They’re taking advantage of the light winds we’ve had to go to a direct attack on the fire,” O’Connor said. That means they’re getting closer to the flames and going after hot spots, he added.

The Mills Canyon fire was the largest of a half-dozen fires burning in central and eastern Washington. The others were all less than 3 square miles, and most were contained or nearing full containment.

Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: Chelan County, Entiat, wildfire

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