A wildfire on the Colville Reservation has prompted evacuations, with more possible as it spreads to nearly 20,000 acres.
“The 19,698-acre fire is burning 10 miles north of Keller, and continues to threaten nearly 150 homes and 90 other structures along Hwy 21,” said the incident reporting system InciWeb in an August 11 news release. “Thirty-two residents living nearest the fire have been evacuated. Others who live near the fire have been alerted to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.”
The fire was started by lightning most likely on August 2 and detected on August 3, InciWeb said, forecasting “critically hot and dry conditions, combined with unstable weather patterns” over the next few days that could hamper efforts to contain the complex of four blazes collectively known as the Devil’s Elbow Complex fire. It was four percent contained as of August 11.
It’s the third major wildfire to hit Indian country directly so far this year. Last month the Warm Springs Reservation fought a 42,044-acre fire started by lightning on July 13, and in June the Navajo Nation saw a 13,450-acre fire destroy at least 13 summer sheep camps, among other sacred areas.
In May parts of the Kenai Peninsula, where many Native Alaskans live, was ravaged by a 182,000-acre fire that was larger than Chicago.
On average about 70,000 acres burn annually in Washington State during a normal wildfire season, according to the Seattle Times. This year the combined total so far is 350,000 acres, the Seattle Times said. That includes the Carlton Complex fire, which has consumed a total of 256,108 acres since starting on July 14. It is the largest wildfire in Washington State history and is 92 percent contained, with full containment expected around August 15, according to InciWeb.