July 14, 2008

Forest Fire Near Mount Adams Expands

By Laura McVicker and Erik Robinson, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

Jul. 14--A fire torching forest land near Mount Adams has grown to 3,000 acres this morning as additional crews arrive to battle the blaze that's being fueled by high winds.

The lightning-sparked fire has been burning for a week about 11 miles northeast of Trout Lake. Although it grew from 500 acres Sunday afternoon to 3,000 acres this morning, fire authorities don't believe it's a danger to any structures or people.

"It's burning away from Trout Lake," said Jeree Mills, spokeswoman for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center in Portland.

Winds are expected to pick up this afternoon, worrying firefighters who are hoping, instead, for high humidity levels to calm the fire.

Two helicopters and an aerial tanker joined wildland firefighters on Sunday fighting the fire about six miles south of Mount Adams' 12,276-foot peak.

The Forest Service closed access to the popular Cold Springs/ South Climb Trailhead to Washington's second-tallest peak. By late Sunday afternoon, the agency had closed forest roads 23, 80 and 82 at the boundary of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, eliminating all public access to national forest lands north of Trout Lake.

Mount Adams District Ranger Nancy Ryke said this morning that 217 people were registered to climb Mount Adams over the weekend, and most were escorted out Sunday afternoon.

"We're just watching out and making sure people are off the mountain," she said.

A total of 237 firefighters, including two elite 20-member "hot shot" crews were due to tackle the blaze today. Fire managers hit the fire with helicopters and an aerial tanker on Sunday, and were planning to do so again today. It is burning in "extremely difficult" terrain of subalpine fir and lodgepole pine, according to the fire coordination center in Portland.


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

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