Crews gain upper hand on Wenatchee wildfire

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by Associated Press and JANET KIM / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on July 6, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Updated Sunday, Jul 6 at 5:58 PM

WENATCHEE, Wash. - Fire officials say a wildfire burning on a hillside behind a Wenatchee neighborhood is 90 percent contained, but evacuations are still in place because high winds are expected to kick up Sunday night.

The brush fire is threatening eight homes, with another 60 on notice that they may need to evacuate.
   
Lynn Sadler and Bruce Grim are among the homeowners who had to evacuate early Sunday morning.

"We didn't pack anything," said Sadler. "They just said you need to go and we got the cat and the dog and figured there was nothing more important."

Fire spokesman Rich Magnussen of the Chelan County sheriff's emergency management team said residents of those eight homes in Wenatchee were strongly encouraged to leave, but not all obeyed the evacuation notice.
   
"We can't make those people leave," Magnussen said, noting that Washington state law does not allow for forced evacuations.
   
The fire came as close as 20 feet to one building, but no structures have been damaged, Magnussen said.
   
The Skyline Drive Fire that was reported at 2:15 a.m. Sunday had spread to about 300 to 400 acres in rough, hilly terrain by midday.
   
Investigators from the Washington Department of Natural Resources were working to determine the cause of the fire burning in sagebrush and dry grass near a recreational trail system known as Saddle Rock. No lightning was reported in the area, Magnussen said.
   
"We know there were no weather-related issues," he said. "We identified where it started. They're trying to determine the cause."

He noted that some of the first on the scene of the fire noticed illegal fireworks being set off in the hillsides.  
  
About 100 firefighters - from Douglas and Chelan counties as well as the Department of Natural Resources - and three helicopters are battling the fire.
   
They were doing as much as they could to slow down the fire before early evening Sunday, when winds were expected to pick up. Gusts may reach as high as 22 mph and temperatures will hit near 92 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
 

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