OMAK — No lightning storms had passed over the Okanogan Valley since Sunday.
But a 200-acre fire on Tuesday afternoon was ignited by that storm. It’s called a holdover fire, and fire officials on the Colville Indian Reservation are expecting more will show themselves in the next day or two, said Ike Cawston, fire management officer for the Colville Tribes’ Mt. Tolman Fire Center.
Firefighters from the Colville Confederated Tribes, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Fire District 8 responded, along with air support from the state Department of Natural Resources.
With help from the air, firefighters surrounded the grass and sagebrush fire, Cawston said. But that was largely due to the fire’s close proximity to Omak Lake. “Being able to scoop water out of the lake with such a short turn-around really helped,” he added.
Cawston said close to 6,000 lightning strikes hit the reservation, and despite the heavy rain that came with it, fire can smolder for days while light fuels dry out, and then ignite a fire.
“Initially, as it passed over the reservation, our greater concern was three or four days out,” he said.
During Tuesday’s fire, officials were worried about one home in the area, but no structures were lost and no one was injured.
WENATCHEE, WASH. — Firefighters are making progress against two big wildfires burning near Wenatchee and Goldendale in Eastern Washington.
They have completed a line around the fire that burned about 35 square miles around Satus Pass, about 15 miles northeast of Goldendale. Spokesman Dam Omdal says more than 1,300 firefighters are mopping up hot spots and strengthening the lines. Evacuations have been lifted. Highway 97 remains closed between Goldendale and Toppenish.
At the 93-square mile fire south of Wenatchee, spokeswoman Linden Lampman says fire retardant drops Tuesday and about 80 hot shot firefighters working overnight prevented the fire from spreading south into Kittitas County where some residents have been evacuated. Nearly 400 firefighters are on the scene.
The fire danger remains high through Thursday with the threat of lightning strikes from thunderstorms.