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Cascade Creek fire inches toward containment
Firefighters hope for rain
October 09, 2012
By BEN MITCHELLOver a month after a lightning strike ignited it, the Cascade Creek wildfire continues to burn around the base of Mt. Adams in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, but fire officials say containment is on the horizon.
"The [fire] growth was insignificant yesterday and last night," said U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Ken Sandusky on Tuesday morning. "They sound real confident that they have it contained."
As of Tuesday morning, the fire had consumed 20,500 acres of mostly bug-killed timber and was estimated at 75 percent containment. The cost of the fire has climbed to over $13 million with an estimated final total of $15 million. Firefighters finished mop-up work and rehabilitation on the southern and eastern boundaries of the fire late last week. Growth has been primarily to the north and west as the fire has curled around the southern and western slopes of Mt. Adams. The entire Mt. Adams Wilderness remains closed, as do numerous Forest Service roads in the area.
Although the fire is nearing containment, air quality has continued to be a periodic issue that plagues communities in and around the Gorge. Due to the wildfire smoke, the Klickitat County Health Department issued an advisory Monday afternoon that stated air quality was hazardous from Trout Lake all the way down to Bingen and advised people to stay indoors.
At times numbering over 600, personnel assigned to the Cascade Creek fire has dropped to 229. The fire was reduced to a Type 3 incident and Washington Incident Management Team No. 4 left Sunday morning after two weeks on the job, transferring command to the U.S. Forest Service. Some equipment and personnel have gone to fight other wildfires in the region, including a 250-acre blaze burning in the Gifford Pinchot near Packwood, referred to as the South Point fire.
Sandusky said interior pockets of trees and other combustible materials will likely continue to burn and containment this week isn't expected to budge much past the current figure. As areas in the Pacific Northwest experience near-record levels of drought, all eyes are on the skies as a chance of rain is in the forecast for this weekend.
"If it rains on Friday, we're done," Sandusky said, but added, "we probably won't call the fire out until it snows."
Burn ban: On Sunday, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire extended a state-wide burn ban to Oct. 15, with the chance that it could be extended further. The ban prohibits all outdoor burning, including but not limited to campfires, bonfires, fireworks, residential yard debris clean-up, trash disposal, weed abatement and agricultural burning. Liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves are permitted, provided that use is conducted over a non-flammable surface and is at least five feet from flammable vegetation. Charcoal grills are permitted at private residences under the same conditions.