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Firefighters Busy With Mount Adams Blaze

8000 acres up in smoke

Gifford Pinchot National Forest fire officials on Monday evening estimated the "Cold Springs Fire" near Trout Lake had grown to more than 8,000 acres and had no idea when the fire might be contained.

The wildland fire in the Mount Adams Ranger District of the national forest has closed access temporarily to the Cold Springs/South Climb Trailhead that serves as a primary access point for climbers of 12,276-foot Mt. Adams.

Forest Road 8040 to the trailhead also has been temporarily closed. Moreover, Forest Roads 80 and 82 are closed at the forest boundary north of Trout Lake, closing access to all roads, trails and campgrounds east of Forest Road 23.

The Cold Springs Fire, which was first reported last Saturday night, was unchecked on Tuesday and fire officials couldn't say when it would be contained. It originated in an isolated area about 11 miles northeast of Trout Lake and was burning on the national forest and the Yakama Indian Reservation, and threatening state Department of Natural Resources-managed land.

A lightning strike from a thunderstorm on June 29 is thought to be the cause of the fire, which has steadily increased in size since Saturday, growing from 30 acres to 1,000 acres on Sunday, and to 8,000 by Monday night.

The Central Oregon Interagency Incident Management took over management of the fire Tuesday and planned to put crews to work constructing fire lines on the south, southwest, west, southeast and east fronts of the fire.

More than 387 fire fighters are working on the blaze, according to the Forest Service. The number includes Forest Service, Yakama Nation and DNR fire crews. Personnel are continuing suppression of the wildland fire with hand crews and wildland fire engines. Eleven 20-person crews--including three Hotshot crews--with 11 engines and five dozers, worked the fire Monday.

Air tankers, one heavy firefighting helicopter, and one medium sized firefighting helicopter were assisting ground crews in the suppression of the fire.

All told, nine active wildfires in Washington had engulfed more than 33,000 acres by Tuesday, July 15, according to the National Fire Information Center.

The Cold Springs Fire--the second largest of the nine--is raging within an area affected by a spruce budworm infestation that began in the late 1980s. The Forest Service analyzed the area in its 2004 Gotchen Risk Reduction and Restoration Project Final Environmental Impact Statement and Mt. Adams District Ranger Nancy Ryke signed the Record of Decision in January 2004. Approximately 400 acres of fuel reduction (cutting of dead trees) has been accomplished since. The dead trees were felled and either left for wildlife habitat or offered for firewood.

In addition, another 400-plus acres of dead, dying or diseased trees were harvested before their commercial value for timber was lost; these areas were planted with tree seedlings. The fire has burned north of all the Gotchen treatment units.

However, no structures or communities are immediately threatened, and no injuries have been reported. Smoke from the fire is drifting toward eastern Washington and Oregon.

Anyone planning to visit the Mt. Adams area is encouraged to contact the Mt. Adams Ranger District, (509) 395-3400, for the latest information or visit the forest Web site, fs.fed.us/gpnf.

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