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For Fire Crews in Chelan, Safety Is Top Priority

August 23, 2015

Fire crews Saturday had an easier time with wind in North Central Washington. That meant it was easier to fight the Chelan Complex. It also meant the area had unhealthy levels of smoke.

Smoke continued to rise from a smoldering fire a few feet away from a mobile home on Lake Chelan. Helicopters dipped water from the lake and dumped it onto hot spots. The area is still under a mandatory evacuation order. The fire, called First Creek, is two percent contained.

A fire crew from the Seattle Fire Department digs at the dirt and sprays water mixed with a light foam on the steaming ashes. That will help suppress the fire and keep it away from buildings.

Erik Hotchkiss is a captain with the Seattle Fire Department. His crew has been fighting these fires for more than a week. He says safety is key, especially after 30-hour shifts.

“You stand here long enough you’ll hear trees falling up above us and coming down the mountain. We’ve had rocks roll right through us. Up above we saw one about the size of a large basketball come down the hill. So you’ve got to be really aware and vigilant," said Hotchkiss.

About 1,000 people in the Chelan area still cannot return to their homes. So far, the fire has burned 86-thousand acres.

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Crews from the Seattle Fire Department have been fighting fires in Chelan for more than a week.

Courtney Flatt