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Blazes keep firefighters busy


A series of wildland fires around the region the last two weeks have kept fire fighting agencies busy and yesterday prompted a burning ban in Grant County.

A nearly 2,000-acre fire about 15 miles south of Inchelium has been 65 percent contained, the Northwest 9 Management team reported Tuesday.

Evacuation levels have been reduced to level one throughout the fire region, fire officials reported. The Kewa blaze started Aug. 2, and has burned 1,912 acres of rangeland and timber.

The NW 9 Management incident commander, Brian Goff, reported that total resources on the fire included 581 personnel, including 16 crews, 20 fire engines, 17 water tenders, five skidgens (tracked equipment), four dozers, and two helicopters, down from three on Monday.

Last Thursday a couple of homes were threatened, but firefighters were able to save the structures.

Good progress on the fire was reported early Tuesday and firefighters were expected to continue mop-up operations along fire lines.

Tuesday’s rain may moderate fire behavior for a few days, but the long-term forecast calls for warm and dry conditions.

The fire on the Colville Indian Reservation was one of many in the region that kept firefighters busy lately. Others also grew large or dangerous enough to warrant state mobilization of resources, force evacuations and put a lot of smoke in the summer sky. Among them:

• The Black Rock Fire, near Wilson Creek, started July 30 and had grown to 28,000 acres the next day.

• The Road 10 Fire, also north of Moses Lake, forced evacuations, burned more than 3,200 acres and destroyed two homes and six outbuildings.

• A Pinto Ridge Fire Aug. 5 briefly had authorities calling for evacuation, but that was cancelled as firefighters got it under control quickly.

• The Lower Crab Creek Fire Aug. 5 also called for mustering state resources near Beverly and Smyrna in southern Grant County.

• The Fletcher Road Fire near Starbuck, Washington, was estimated at 2,000 acres Aug. 7.

• The Palouse Falls Fire, started by lightning Aug. 7, had grown to 25,000 acres a day later near Washtucna.

• At least two fires were fought in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, the Halfway Fire and Buck Creek Fire.

The causes of most fires were listed as either under investigation or lightning.

As of noon, today (Aug. 10), Grant County commissioners declared Tuesday, a countywide burning ban is imposed.

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