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Leavenworth-area fires curtail forest access

Lake Wenatchee and Glacier Peak Wilderness trails closed

LEAVENWORTH — Three wildfires burning in the Leavenworth and Lake Wenatchee areas will be closely monitored but allowed to burn themselves out.

The Eightmile Lake trail and the trail that runs between the lake and Windy Pass in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness were closed Wednesday after the latest fire broke out southwest of Leavenworth. The fire had burned about 60 acres by this morning, said Susan Peterson, spokeswoman for the Wenatchee River Ranger District.

The blaze, which is believed to have been caused by lightning strikes from a couple of weeks ago, grew quickly after it was reported at 1:30 p.m. Smoke was visible from the Wenatchee area.

U.S. Forest Service rangers hiked into the area and asked day hikers and campers to leave.

Peterson said the fire is burning about halfway up the slope above the lake and is flanked on three sides by rocky cliffs, two old burn areas and by the lake at the bottom. There is subalpine forest on the slope and a band of vegetation along the lake that can still burn, she added.

“We feel at this point that the fire is so well contained by natural barriers that we would like to let fire play its natural role in the ecosystem,” she said.

Two other fires are burning in the Glacier Peak Wilderness northwest of Lake Wenatchee. The Thunder Basin Fire has burned 75 to 100 acres and is expected to grow today, Peterson said. The ranger district has issued a trail advisory for hikers on the White River Trail, warning that they may be asked to leave if the fire becomes more of a threat.

The Ibex Fire, which has prompted the closure of the Mt. David Trail, has burned 25 acres.

No fire crews are actively working on any of the fires because of the remote and steep terrain.

Peterson said there were large clouds forming over the Cascade Crest this morning — an indication of a cooling trend that is expected to come in the next couple of days that should keep the fires in check.

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