Central Washington fire 47 percent contained



KITTITAS COUNTY, Wash. - Firefighters in Washington state were working to contain a handful of wildfires burning east of the Cascades Monday before thunderstorms sweep through the region, bringing lightning and the possibility of additional fires.


   Most of Eastern Washington was under a fire watch Monday due to the high temperatures and low humidity.


   Thunderstorms were forecast for a wide swath of north-central Washington, stretching from Omak to Moses Lake and east to the Idaho panhandle, Monday evening and Tuesday, said Steven Van Horn, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Spokane. But he said once those storms blow through, temperatures should begin to cool off through Friday.


   That's good news for firefighters already on the lines at several fires.


   Crews hope to fully contain a fire by Tuesday that has burned dozens of homes east of Cle Elum. The Taylor Bridge Fire has burned across more than 23,000 acres of grass sagebrush and timber, and about 1,000 firefighters are fighting the blaze.


   Firefighters planned to conduct controlled burns of potential fuel Monday, said Mick Mueller, a spokesman for the incident management team handling the Taylor Bridge fire.


   The fire broke out a week ago at a bridge construction project, and the exact cause remains under investigation.


   Meanwhile, a wildfire near Wenatchee has grown to just over 1 square mile.


   The Keane Ranch fire is burning in grass, brush and timber. Crews have dug lines along three sides of the fire, which is about 60 percent contained. The fire has not threatened or damaged any structures.


   The blaze was reported just after 1 p.m. Sunday. The cause is believed to be lightning.


   Two firefighters are also monitoring a wildfire burning near the confluence of Lost River and Monument Creek, nearly 20 miles northwest of Winthrop. The blaze, also started by lightning, is burning in steep terrain in the Pasayten Wilderness.


   A lack of safe access prevents firefighters from tackling the blaze directly. Portions of the Monument Creek Trail are closed due to the fire, which has burned about 50 acres.