NEAR PORT ORCHARD -- Neighbors could smell it from time to time but couldn’t find a fire burning in the thick South Kitsap County woods. By the time they called the fire department, the sneaky fire had grown to three acres and was scorching the forest from the inside out.
"It was burning underground," explained South Kitsap Battalion Chief Jon Gudmundsen. "It was just smoldering under the forest duff."
On Thursday, the Department declared the stubborn fire was finally out.
It was a challenge from the beginning. Crews had to clear a quarter mile trail through the thick mixed timber to get to the fire. While surveying it, some fell into holes that the fire burned under their feet. Nobody was injured but it was a back-breaking fight for firefighters who had to dig up burning roots and follow them to hot spots.
Investigators are still trying to determine a cause for the fire, which would come up for air during the hot afternoons and then go back underground as temperatures cooled and humidity rose.