Washington Fire Hits Area Of Steep Terrain Near Chelan

CHELAN, Wash. (AP) -- Fire raced through an area of old-growth forest Saturday in steep and rocky terrain of the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest.

The 15- to 20-acre fire was sparked by lightning Saturday morning in the 25 Mile Creek drainage, 18 miles northwest of Chelan on the south shore of Lake Chelan, said fire manager Marsh Haskins of the U.S. Forest Service.

Four helicopters dumped buckets of water on the flames, and three 20-person crews were being assembled to attack the fire on the ground, said Doug Jenkins, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman.

``Some people tried to go into the fire earlier but because there was no safe anchor point we pulled them out,'' he said.

Haskins said the helicopters were also being used to try to develop an anchor point.

Jenkins said the fire was expected to reach the only remaining old-growth forest area in the 25 Mile Creek drainage. Vacationers and campers in the area were not in danger, he said.

No homes were threatened. The fire was about 4 1/2 miles from structures, Haskins said.

South of Rock Island Dam in Douglas County, crews contained a fire that burned 500 acres near the Columbia River Siding, said firefighter Scott Miller of Douglas County Fire District 2. The cause of the fire was being investigated.

To the north, the Freezeout Fire was burning between 100 and 400 acres in the northwest portion of the Pasayten Wilderness one mile south of the Canadian border. Officials from both nations were meeting to decide the best course of action.

Mark Pepin, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, said heavy fog, clouds and intermittent rain Saturday held down the flames.

Elsewhere in Eastern Washington, numerous small fires started by lightning were reported.

The state Department of Natural Resources warned that thunderstorms moving through Eastern Washington this weekend are raising concerns about additional lightning-caused fires.

``This system is expected to bring several thunderstorms and high winds,'' the department said in a statement. ``After several days of hot, dry weather, this prediction is a concern for wildfire managers.''

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