July 13, 2008

Wildfire Near Mount Adams Unfurls Eruption-Like Smoke Plume

By Erik Robinson, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

Jul. 13--Two helicopters and an aerial tanker joined wildland firefighters today battling a lightning-sparked wildfire south of Mount Adams.

The Forest Service temporarily closed access to the popular Cold Springs/ South Climb Trailhead to Washington's second-tallest peak.

Emergency workers today were coordinating the exit of roughly 100 climbers leaving the peak through Forest Road 8040, near where the 500-acre fire was burning 11 miles northeast of Trout Lake.

Smoke from the fire was visible 60 miles away in Vancouver, where several people mistook the cauliflower-like plume of smoke for an eruption of Mount Adams. With temperatures above 90 degrees and a 12 mph northwest wind this afternoon, the fire jumped from 100 acres to more than 500 acres in size.

"It's always a concern in that area because there is some bug-killed timber, and it's the drier side of the forest," said Chris Strebig, spokesman for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Vancouver. "That's why we're definitely jumping on it."

Strebig said forest officials were preparing to call in more resources as the fire spread from 30 acres to more than 500 burning in a forest atop an old lava bed.

Fire managers suspect a lightning storm earlier this month sparked the blaze, along with a 2-acre fire burning in the Cedar Flats area along Forest Road 25 north of Swift Reservoir.

"They're hold-over lightening fires from about a week ago," Strebig said.


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Copyright (c) 2008, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

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