LEAVENWORTH, Wash. — Fire officials said Wednesday the timing of the 40-acre Spromberg Fire about 4 miles north of Leavenworth took them by surprise.
The cause of the fire that began Tuesday at Spromberg Canyon Road and Chumstick Highway (State Route 209) is still under investigation, the state Fire Marshal’s Office said.
Firefighters said Wednesday the weather is cooperating with lower temperatures and humidity, but the real concern is the wind. They're also concerned about spot fires crossing the Chumstick Highway into areas that haven't yet burned.
The fire began at about midday Tuesday inside a huge pile of logs along Chumstick Highway, about 4 miles north of Leavenworth.
"Winds are still blowing, and active fire suppression efforts continue," the Chelan County Emergency Management said on its Facebook page late Wednesday afternoon. "Currently, fire is listed as 40 acres in size and 50% contained, though these figures are expected to shift as more detailed assessments are obtained. It is hoped that less wind in the forecast for Thursday will further aid containment.
"No structures or homes have been damaged by the fire to date, and no injuries of any kind have been reported," Emergency Management said.
The dead wood in the log pile was ready to burn Tuesday -- and by Wednesday, flames had charred 40 acres and forced evacuations for about 150 homes and cabins in its path.
Anne Cowlin is one of those evacuated.
"Today I went down to see if they (firefighters) needed any more food like we fixed for them yesterday," she said.
Cowlin said she believes firefighters will keep her home from burning down, but she's worried that fire season came too soon.
"It's scary. What's a July and August gonna do? So I think people just need to be super-careful watching what they do and, you know, using common sense."
Firefighters said the piles of scorched logs will likely continue to burn for several days -- simply because there's so much fuel.
"It's still early season, but this has been a real eye-opener for us this early in the fire season," said Brendan Cowan, public information officer for the Northwest Incident Management Team.
A state helicopter was monitoring several spot fires that scorched more land across the highway. Fire crews plan to continue stamping out hot spots and digging lines where they can.
But as weather conditions for wildfires grow, fire officials warn many places across the state are ready to burn.
"It's a reminder to us that it pays to always be prepared and these firefighters, these folks, always need to be ready to go in a hurry because you never know when it's going to come," Cowan said.
The Chelan County Emergency Management said, "This fire is an exceptionally timely and important reminder that fire season is here in Washington. As we head into the holiday weekend, it's important to use caution with potential ignition sources, take steps to mitigate your exposure to fire hazards, and talk through emergency plans with your family, co-workers, and neighbors."