Crews work to protect homes from lightning-sparked fires

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by KING 5 News, Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on September 10, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 10 at 10:16 PM

Firefighters are trying to control as many as 110 wildfires burning around Central Washington, with no rain in sight.

The fires are burning in Chelan, Okanogan, Kittitas and Yakima counties.

The Byrd Canyon Fire located north of the city of Entiat along SR97A is estimated at 7,000 acres, and is burning in grass and brush. High winds have driven the fire from Byrd Canyon to the Knapp Coulee road near the city of Chelan.

Much of the smoke in the Lake Chelan Basin is drifting in from this fire.

Twenty homes in the path of Byrd Canyon fire are under a mandatory evacuation order. Dozens more are threatened.

SR 97-A is closed from SR971 to South Shore Road cutoff in Chelan and several Forest Service roads are closed. Along with the fire danger, there is danger from rock slides triggered by the flames.

About 20 miles to the south, the Wenatchee River complex has burned about 2,500 acres.

Firefighters were making some progress against fires that once threatened almost 200 homes.

“They stopped it with a wet line; it was a combination of walking the fire line and having drops on here also,” said George Larson, Chelan Co. Sheriff's Office Volunteer.

Residents in the Canyon one area west of Wenatchee have been downgraded from evacuation level 3 to level 2, which means an evacuation is advised but not mandatory.

Officials say the Level 1, 2 and 3 Evacuation Status's are akin to a "Ready, Set, Go" level of evacuation notices with Level 1 asking residents be ready to evacuate if conditions change, Level 2 meaning residents should be set to go at a moment's notice, and Level 3 meaning authorities are advising residents to evacuate because their homes are in imminent danger.

National type one teams will take over management of both the Wenatchee complex fire and the Byrd Canyon fire, which means more resources and equipment will be made available.

Related: Photos from Canyons Fire near Wenatchee

Related: Photos from Byrd Canyon Wildfire near Entiat

The local Red Cross chapter has set up shelter for evacuees at the Wenatchee Seventh-Day Adventist Church, located at 508 North Western Avenue and available at 509-663-3907.

A public information phone line has also been set up: 509-667-6636.

The command post for the Wenatchee River Complex is located at the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery.

Lightning on Saturday is believed to have sparked all of the fires across Central and Eastern Washington.

In addition to the fires in Central Washington, nearly 30,000 acres of sagebrush and grass has caught fire near Grand Coulee Dam. Another fire has burned 200 acres of sagebrush and grass near Odessa in Lincoln County.

Rain that fell in Seattle Sunday night didn't make it over the Cascades. The National Weather Service said the same front will bring gusty winds that could fan all of the Washington wildfires.

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