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BREAKING NEWS: Owl Mountain Fire expanded, water bombers on site

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
September 21st, 2012

UPDATED: Fire under control, has expanded to more than 10 acres on Owl Mountain

A small half-acre wildfire has turned into more than a 10 acre blaze on Owl Mountain, located south of the Cascade Border crossing in Christina Lake.

Crews from Colville, Washington have been monitoring the blaze since it began last week from a lightening strike. Yesterday, Thursday, Sept. 20, the blaze took off from the remote and inaccessible cliff bench it began on. The smoke was very visible from the Canadian side of the border as were the water bombers and helicopters that were dipping down into Christina Lake to take water to the blaze.

“Yesterday (the fire) picked up a little steam,” said Franklin Pemberton, public affairs officer for the Colville National Forest, which Owl Mountain is in.

“The fire was in a cliff bench and we don’t put firefighters in that because it is a recipe for broken legs and rolling debris.”

Instead the fire crews had a contigency line formed above and below the blaze to keep it contained. Now the fire is in the process of breaking away from the cliff and into the timber, which will enable crews to more effectively put it out, said Pemberton.

He said there are no homes or structures being threatened by the fire at this time. Nor is the radio transmission tower on the mountain threatened.

He said it’s been a bad season for wildfires in Washington state.

“It’s been such a terrible fire season. We wish it would rain.”

Crews will continue to work on the fire today. Pemberton said once the blaze is out there is a possibility of land slides.

“I think it will be interesting to see when it is all done because the rock was held in place by the vegetation, so there is potential for some descent rock slides,” he said.

Several Canadian homes, located in the Ponderosa area, are within several kilometers of the blaze but the Southeast Fire Centre is not involved in fighting the flames.

As part of international understandings, the American water bombers and helicopters are permitted to cross the line during emergency situations.

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