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Big fires still burning in Washington and Idaho, though their growth has slowed

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 3, 2018, 6:23 p.m.

FILE– An airplane drops fire retardant on a hillside fire above Newman Lake on Monday, July 30, 2018. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE– An airplane drops fire retardant on a hillside fire above Newman Lake on Monday, July 30, 2018. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Cooler weather has brought more favorable firefighting conditions to the Northwest, but several fires continue to burn even as their growth has slowed.

In Central Washington, the Cougar Creek fire in the Wenatchee National Forest, which started July 28 due to lightning strikes, has come close to threatening some homes, though firefighters say no mandatory evacuations have been issued.

The 42,000-acre blaze is about 60-percent contained, said fire spokesman Mike Reichling, and firefighters have only seen growth to the north and northwest.

“It’s going really well on the containment,” he said. “The fire is pretty slow moving.”

Farther north, the Crescent Mountain and McLeod fires in the Cascades and Okanogan National Forest are still actively burning, with both reporting less than 40-percent containment, according to fire management information posted to Inciweb. Officials said last week hundreds of firefighters have been attacking the blazes since they began in late July due to lightning.

With a combined acreage of about 70,000 – nearly 110 square miles – in mountainous terrain, firefighters say the plan is to keep fire activity from spreading to populated areas until the changing of the seasons, when rain is able to douse them completely.

Closer to Spokane, the Boyds fire at 4,700 acres near Kettle Falls and Horns Mountain fire farther north near the Canadian border are nearly 100-percent contained.

In North Idaho, the 7,500 acre Cougar fire northeast of Lake Pend Oreille is 70-percent contained in rugged, steep terrain. Firefighters said the priority is to monitor firelines and let the fire burns itself out naturally.

To the south, the Surprise Creek fire in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest is 78 percent contained. At about 3,000 acres and burning in a remote area, firefighters plan to monitor at firelines and act if activity spreads toward Road 332.


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