FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2009
Update on fires burning on DNR-protected lands
Discovery Fire west of Yakima grows to 600 acres; DNR responding to new wildfire near town of Nile in Yakima County.
OLYMPIA – A wildfire in the Ahtanum State Forest grew to 600 acres in size today with no estimated date of containment. Yesterday evening, the fire was estimated at 150 acres. Crews from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), assisted by three helicopters dropping water, worked with local and federal agencies on the fire, which was apparently started by a lightning strike Wednesday in a rugged forested area west of Yakima.
With the fire now in or nearing dried tree stands with poor forest health because of severe damage by insects, including bark beetles and the Western Spruce budworm, DNR is keeping the Ahtanum State Forest closed to the public until further notice.
Also today, DNR responded to a new wildfire east of Chinook Pass and just west of the Yakima County town of Nile. The Hailstorm Fire had grown to about 70 acres by late this afternoon. A total of four helicopters were on the fire earlier in the day, plus air tankers dropping flame retardant.
Saturday has the potential to provide more challenges to wildland firefighters as a red flag warning has been issued for dangerous fire conditions for much of thestate, including the Cascade and Olympic mountains as well as the Okanogan and Methow valleys.
As of 4:30 p.m., wildfires of note on lands that DNR protects, or on which it provides cooperative assistance, included:
- Discovery Fire, Yakima County, 600 acres and growing (no containment reported). See photos on DNR’s Flickr page.
- Hailstorm Fire, Yakima County, 70 acres.
- Union Valley Fire, Chelan County, 600 acres (demobilization of crews expected to begin Saturday).
DNR fire officials warn that the entire state continues to see dangerous fire conditions due to heat and dry conditions. Many Washington counties have fire hazard levels rated as “high” to “extreme” this weekend due to dry weather and low moisture levels in grasses, trees, and other vegetation. Check local conditions and restrictions by calling 1-800-323-BURN (2876) or go to: http://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/firedanger
DNR’s wildfire mission
Administered by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, DNR is responsible for preventing and fighting wildfires on 12.7 million acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands in Washington. DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department. During fire season, this includes more than 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency and about 375 seasonal workers. DNR also participates in Washington’s coordinated interagency approach to firefighting.
Bob Redling, Senior Communications Manager, 360-902-1149, email@example.com
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