A fire in clearcuts east of Woodland grew to about 100 acres Monday and officials called in reinforcements to combat a growing number of wildfires in the region.

By late Monday afternoon, four helicopters and a large airship were dropping water and fire retardant on the blaze, but none of the fire had been contained as evening began, fire officials said.

“The first thing we do is to get a line all around it to get it contained,” said Jim Shank, the incident commander for the state Department of Natural Resources. About 5 percent of the fire had been contained as of midday Monday.

The fire broke out Sunday on state land that been logged and was quickly spread by afternoon winds. Standing timber is a few hundred yards away.

“We’re putting down it as human-caused,” Shank said, though it’s too early to say if the fire was intentionally set. Shenk said a discarded cigarette could ignite a fire when temperatures are in the 90s and as dry as it’s been.

The fire is in the Colvin Creek drainage, north of Fredrickson Road. It’s about one mile from the nearest home, though major power lines are closer. No evacuations have been ordered, though dirt bike riders were asked to leave, Shenk said.

Plumes of smoke could be seen from Lewis River Road. Two helicopters were dumping buckets of water from the nearby Lewis River onto the fire, which was leaping from bush to bush. A tanker plane had dumped fire-retardant on the blaze earlier. About 120 firefighters were working the blaze as of Monday morning.

Brian Trembley, who lives at the end of Fredrickson Road, said his family was a bit worried about the fire Sunday.

“When you get smoke and no line of sight and helicopters overhead, you don’t know,” he said.

A tanker truck from Cowlitz Fire District 1 was parked at the end of Trembley’s driveway, and a firefighter helped him refill his own reservoir.

Trembley didn’t seem too worried by midday, however. “I’m going to get going on my honey-dos,” he said.

The Colvin Fire is the third wildfire burning or continuing to smolder in the Cowlitz/Clark county area. The new fire has prompted the state to call in an additional firefighting team — known as Washington Incident Management Team 5. Monday, DNR was seting up a base camp at Castle Rock Elementary School, said Chuck Turley, a DNR spokesman. About 300 firefighting personnel are expected to be based at the camp, the first of its kind set up in this region in about 30 years, Turley said.

Firefighters also will resume mopping up fires in the Germany Creek area west of Longview and Big Creek area in the Yacolt area of Clark County, Turley said.

Another fire reportedly has broken out off Little Kalama River Road, also near Woodland, and is about 1/4 of an acre .

“We’re king of chasing one fire to another, and that’s why we are bringing in this team, to help put all of them to bed,” Turley said.

The Daily News, Longview, Wash.



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