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Fire season starts


Firefighters from the Mt. Tolman Fire Center on the Colville Reservation battle a blaze last week that consumed some 700 acres of brush and grass.

Fire Management Officer Ike Cawston said they’re still patrolling the area to watch for hot spots.

The fire, which burned near Belvedere and along the Columbia River, was reported Wednesday at 8:25 p.m. It burned mostly in grass and sage, but structure protection was called in for the Belvedere area. No structures were lost.

Earlier the same day, an unrelated fire started near Omak and another near Bridgeport, Cawston said. “We were pretty busy.”

Cawston said the fire season was predicted to be about five weeks early, based on data collected from several regional remote weather stations. But he noted “SNOTEL” stations in other areas recorded snopack at normal levels, while the lone station on the reservation was “nowhere near that.”

He said Mt. Tolman, currently with a staff of about 44, is “definitely poised for a fairly active fire season.”

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