Wildfire grows near Nespelem, Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- A 3,000-acre grass fire was burning near Nespelem and a 300-acre fire was burning near Lake Chelan as wildfire season kicked into gear Monday in Washington state.

The Hopkins Canyon fire near Nespelem, which was caused by lightning on Saturday, was moving primarily through grass and sagebrush and was not threatening any structures, said Dave Nee, assistant fire management officer for the Colville tribe.

``It's on rocky, steep terrain,'' Nee said. ``It's hard to get stuff in and around it.''

About 100 people were fighting the fire, about 8 miles southwest of Nespelem and about 75 miles west of Spokane, he said.

Meanwhile, the Pot Peak Fire was burning in 300 acres of remote timberland about 15 miles northwest of the resort town of Chelan. The fire grew overnight from 100 acres.

The fire is on Forest Service land about 4 miles from Lake Chelan and 25 Mile State Park, the Forest Service said.

It also was caused by lightning on Saturday, and was not threatening any structure.

Six helicopters are dropping lake water on the flames, but the area is too remote and steep for firefighters, said Robin DeMario of the U.S. Forest Service.

Boaters on Lake Chelan were ordered to stay well clear of the helicopters, because the down wash from the rotors can capsize boats, the Forest Service said.

``Visitors coming to Chelan to enjoy the upcoming 4th of July holiday should not be adversely affected as the result of the Pot Peak Fire,'' the Forest Service said, although they will likely see and possibly smell smoke.

The 300-acre Freezeout Fire in the northwest corner of the Pasayten Wilderness was also started by lightning Saturday. That fire was being monitored by two people but was not being fought because officials think it may burn itself out.

The lightning storm that moved through Eastern Washington started numerous other small fires over the weekend which were quickly extinguished