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Firefighters Master Olympic Park Blaze; California Fire Proves Stubborn

September 3, 1985

Undated (AP) _ Firefighters in Washington state contained the worst blaze in Olympic National Park history while a stubborn California fire that consumed at least 2,080 acres in a rugged canyon near Vacaville continued to frustrate more than 650 firefighters.

The Olympic park fire, across Puget Sound from Seattle, may cost taxpayers $2 million, Randy Jones, assistant park superintendent, said Monday. Authorities are looking for whoever started it by building an illegal campfire, he said.

He said 82 of the 264 firefighters at the 1,350-acre blaze were being released today, leaving only federal employees normally assigned to the Olympic Peninsula. All told, firefighters reported 13 minor injuries such as sprained ankles, twisted knees, cuts and bee stings.

‘We still have a couple days’ work ahead of us before we’re going to be controlled,″ Jones said.

In the Vacaville fire, rugged terrain and winds gusting to 30 mph hampered firefighters’ efforts to tame the blaze, said California Department of Forestry spokeswoman Darlene Bristol.

Firefighters are hoping to contain the fire late tonight and to have it stamped out by Wednesday morning, Ms. Bristol said. Most are working in hand crews, but 19 bulldozers, four helicopters and four air tankers also helped to battle the blaze.

She said winds blew the fire, which started Saturday, away from the 12 residences in the canyon and no other structures were threatened.

Elsewhere, an army of around 1,000 firefighters from seven Western states began an all-out frontal assault Monday on the northern and northeastern flanks of a huge 31,150-acre fire that spread from Idaho across the Montana border last week from the Salmon National Forest to the Bitterroot National Forest.

In Wyoming’s rugged Rattlesnake Hills about 50 miles west of Casper, a four-day-old blaze was declared under control Monday after firefighters extinguished a 40-acre flare-up created when the main blaze jumped fire lines. Mop-up crews remained at the scene Monday evening.

About 12 hours earlier, another group of workers contained a 1,028-blaze in Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming.

Fires in the Washington counties of Okanogan, Ferry and Stevens counties have burned more than 33,000 acres, said Rob Harper of the state Department of Natural Resources.

In northeast Washington’s Okanogan County, firefighters hoped to contain the 25,000-acre Barker Mountain fire by late Monday. They were burning tinder- dry brush and grass in some areas to reduce the chance of a breakout and were trying to save an undetermined number of houses that were inside the fire lines.

The blaze had already burned 19 dwellings, ranging from tents to large frame houses, said Okanogan County Sheriff John Johnston.

Firefighters in Idaho estimated that the mammoth Salmon National Forest blaze, ignited by lightning on July 20, would be contained Friday.

Drizzles and cool, overcast conditions Monday helped slow the fire’s spread, said Salmon Forest spokesman Jim Stone.

″They didn’t lose any acres today or yesterday,″ Stone said. ″Wet and soggy is the way it’s described on the fire.″

The blaze also had crossed into Montana, burning about 80 acres of the Bitterroot National Forest, Stone said.

In northern Idaho, workers fighting a 1,440-acre fire in the Nez Perce National Forest were set back by 20 mph winds, but hoped to contain the blaze by Tuesday.

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