Firefighters battle central Washington sagebrush fires

Several fires of unknown origins burned sagebrush about 20 miles and 24 hours apart near Quincy and George, Wash.
Dan Wheat

Capital Press

Published on July 2, 2018 8:21AM

Last changed on July 2, 2018 4:30PM

Firefighters watch a wildfire at the east end of Burke Lake between George and Quincy, Wash., at 5:46 p.m. July 1. They lacked roads to reach the fire until it jumped the lake and spread farther south.

Dan Wheat/Capital Press

Firefighters watch a wildfire at the east end of Burke Lake between George and Quincy, Wash., at 5:46 p.m. July 1. They lacked roads to reach the fire until it jumped the lake and spread farther south.

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Anthony Leibelt, deputy chief of Grant County Fire District 3, points with firefighter Brian Evens to a wildfire across Burke Lake in the remote Quincy Lakes between Quincy and George, Wash., at 5:39 p.m. July 1.

Dan Wheat/Capital Press

Anthony Leibelt, deputy chief of Grant County Fire District 3, points with firefighter Brian Evens to a wildfire across Burke Lake in the remote Quincy Lakes between Quincy and George, Wash., at 5:39 p.m. July 1.

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GEORGE, Wash. — Wildfire burned about 3,800 acres of sagebrush and grass between George and Quincy, Wash., on Sunday night, about 24 hours after another fire burned 100 acres some 20 miles to the south along Frenchman Hills.

Neither fire damaged structures or crops or resulted in injuries, said Anthony Leibelt, deputy chief of Grant County Fire District 3 in Quincy.

The causes of both fires are under investigation, Leibelt said, while declining to say either was suspicious. The Sunday fire started about 5 p.m. in a recreation area on the west side of Quincy Lake, he said. A vehicle was seen leaving the vicinity but it is not known if it had anything to do with the fire, he said.

Strong wind fanned it quickly southeast along the northern side of Burke Lake. No roads led close enough for firefighters to initially reach the fire and they hoped Burke Lake would stop it. But the fire jumped the lake and burned south to Evergreen Lake, another barrier firefighters hoped would stop it. The fire jumped that lake also and was finally contained at Road 2 Northwest and an irrigation canal about 2 miles northwest of George, he said.

REsidents of about 10 homes were temporarily put on evacuation standby but did not have to be vacated, he said.

A third fire in the same vicinity about three weeks earlier burned 75 acres and was not of suspicious origin, Leibelt said. A firefighter lost a finger in that fire, he said.

“Firefighter safety is a big concern in these rocky areas,” he said. “Conditions are hot and dry, and with winds off they (fires) go.”



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