Fire Threatens More Than 140 Homes Near Lake Wenatchee, Washington

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) -- A wildfire believed to have started in a burning mobile home before igniting nearby brush has grown to more than 960 acres and threatened more than 140 homes, fire officials said.

The fire was burning on the southern face of Dirtyface Mountain in Chelan County. Fire officials ordered the evacuation of 75 homes in the Whispering Pines subdivision north of Highway 207, the Lake Wenatchee Highway, after the fire burned to within 100 yards of some homes.

Another 70 scattered homes in the area remained under notice they might have to evacuate as well, Forest Service spokeswoman Robin DeMario said. A bulldozer line had been built around the subdivision and sprinklers were in place to protect against flying embers.

The fire, believed to have started Saturday evening, was reported 10 percent contained Monday evening, according to the Central Washington Area Incident Management Team.

Fire officials met Monday night with about 150 residents at a public meeting.

''They had lots of good questions. I think we answered a lot of community concerns,'' said Roland Emetaz, a spokesman for the incident management team.

He had no estimate on when the fire might be fully contained but said Monday's cooler weather would be replaced by warmer temperatures and lower humidity Tuesday.

''That's the downside,'' he said, adding that on the plus side, winds were expected to decrease to 5-10 mph and expected to be blowing upslope, away from most homes.

Elsewhere in northcentral Washington, a wildfire about 12 miles northwest of Stehekin, in North Cascades National Park, had grown to 109 acres by Monday evening.

Firefighters were trying to stop that fire from spreading toward the lower Stehekin Valley, where it could threaten homes, park officials said.

No injuries were reported in either fire.

In the Dirtyface fire, the American Red Cross has established a shelter for evacuated residents at the Icicle River Middle School in Leavenworth.

The blaze was believed to have started in a mobile home before spreading to state-protected land and parts of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, DeMario said. The fire was burning grass, brush and timber in extremely steep terrain.

Nothing was left of the mobile home Monday. Fire officials said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Firefighters were using hiking trails to help build fire lines, and helicopters and air tankers were dropping water and retardant, DeMario said.

As many as 400 firefighters were assigned to the fire. A combined state and federal team took over management of the fire on Monday, DeMario said.

No structures had been damaged, aside from the original mobile home.

A park ranger spotted the North Cascades fire on Sunday, and eight smokejumpers from Winthrop flew to the scene. About 65 firefighters were assigned to the fire by Monday evening, digging lines, and two helicopters were dropping water.

Since the fire started near a trail, officials suspected it was caused by a person.

The Pacific Crest Trail remained open, although hikers were advised to reroute via the Rainbow Creek and McAlester Creek trails.

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