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Slightly Cooler Weather Could Be Help, Hindrance To NW Firefighters

Courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center

Cooler temperatures and a bit more humidity are expected to help Northwest firefighters for the next day or two. But the winds from the west that are moderating temperatures may also help spread flames and embers from existing fires.

Fire officials are making slow progress on some of the biggest fires. For example, the Chuweah Creek fire that has been threatening the town of Nespelem has spread to about 34,000 acres. Fire crews say they have it about 20% contained.

Others, such as the Burbank fire, which has been burning in the Yakima area for more than a week, are fully or nearly fully contained.

Ryan Rodruck from the Department of Natural Resources says many fires in the region are in the mop-up phase.

“Mop-up means that we are making the fire as safe as we can to reduce any of the residual smoke after the fire has been controlled. That’s done by removing any burning material on the control line, felling any snag trees that remain or moving and securing any logs that are in the area so they don’t run down a hill," he said.

The winds are blowing out smoke that has been hovering. As of early Friday afternoon, the air was considered good or moderate around most of the Northwest.

Reports from Northwest fires (as of Friday afternoon):

In Pend Oreille County, a timber fire burning near Lime Lake is now fully surrounded. The sheriff’s department had issued an evacuation order for people in Metaline Falls, but later cancelled it.

In central Washington, the Red Apple fire burning near Wenatchee is burning about 10,000 acres. It’s 10% contained. A little to the south, the Burbank fire which has been burning in the Yakima area for about a week is now nearly fully contained.

In the southeastern corner of Washington, what is known as the Lick Creek fire is now 65,000 acres, but 30% contained. Across the border, near Lewiston, the Shovel Creek fire in what has been called the Snake River complex, has burned about 100-thousand acres. It’s still only about 12% contained. There are dozens of small fires burning in the mountains of north central Idaho.

Up in the panhandle, several fires are burning from the Canadian border down to south of I-90. The Trestle Creek fire complex near Hope, Idaho has been burning for more than a week. Collectively, a handful of fires there have charred about 250 acres. Crews have the largest about half contained. Just across the border from Sandpoint in Montana, a fire called Burnt Peak has burned nearly 1,500 acres.