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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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DNR imposes burn ban, closes shooting range near Suncrest

The Department of Natural Resources announced a burn ban on all of its land in Eastern Washington and the closure of an informal shooting range near Suncrest.

The shooting range on state Highway 291, known as Stonelodge or Mile Marker 19, has been the site of two fires started by target shooters this year, according to Stevens County Fire District 1. Four fires were started there by shooters in 2015.

Recent hot and dry weather has increased the fire danger in Spokane, Lincoln and Stevens counties to high.

In addition, incendiary devices – including fireworks, exploding targets and tracer ammunition – are illegal on all DNR land. Those who violate the shooting closure could be fined. The shooting range may reopen as conditions allow.

Fire danger forces closure of Kamiak Butte campground

One of Whitman County’s most popular campgrounds – Kamiak Butte – has been closed due to fire danger.

The county park’s 5 miles of forested hiking trails are open for day use, but the park’s campground has been closed until further notice.

Parks staff said the campground would likely open once the Palouse sees enough rainfall to reduce the chance of wildfires.

The closure by the Whitman County Parks Department comes partly in response to a 10-acre blaze at the top of the butte last weekend. The investigation into the cause of that fire is ongoing, but Palouse Fire Chief Mike Bagott told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News the fire could have been caused by an illegal campfire on the south side of the butte late June 25.

While the county park is open during the day, there are some fire restrictions for those hiking the butte, and in all county parks: no open fires and no smoking on trails.

Fireworks are not allowed in Kamiak Butte, Klemgard and Wawawai parks, in the Elberton ghost town or on the Colfax and Bill Chipman Palouse trails.

Only gas stoves and briquettes can be used for cooking at the parks.

TRAIL DELAYS: Beginning Tuesday and continuing through the week, sections of the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail will experience delays and closures while county crews clean the asphalt and fill in cracks. Trail users can expect delays Tuesday, but the rest of the week portions of the trail will be closed as the cracks are filled and allowed to dry.

For specific closure information, contact the Whitman County Parks Department or visit their Facebook page.

2 brush fires in Kittitas County – both burning near Cle Elum

Fire crews are fighting two brush fires in Kittitas County in Central Washington.

A spokesman with the Central Washington Interagency Communications Center, Jim Duck, says one blaze is burning about 5 miles east of Cle Elum. He said residents of several homes were told to leave the area immediately.

He said Saturday afternoon that no injuries have been reported and no structures have burned.

The state DNR said the fire was reported at 1 p.m. Saturday and had burned an estimated 40 acres.

A stretch of Highway 10 between Cle Elum and Ellensburg has been closed. The fire also threatened a nearby chimpanzee sanctuary.

Duck said about 100 personnel were working on that fire.

Crews in helicopters were dropping water onto the fire and around threatened homes.

Crews also were fighting a smaller blaze that has burned 4 acres in South Cle Elum.

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