20,000-acre Mills Canyon Fire in Chelan County now 22% contained

ENTIAT, Wash. -- More than 760 firefighters are making some progress on a massive wildfire about two miles east of Entiat in Chelan County.

The Mills Canyon Fire, which began Tuesday morning, has burned an estimated 20,364 acres of grass and brush, an area bigger than the size of Bellingham. Only three outbuildings have been burned, and no homes have been lost.

Officials said the fire was about 22 percent contained Friday night.

The fire burned right down to Highway 97A Friday, forcing the closure of the highway again. Officials have reopened the highway.

But firefighters are also busy a few miles up the Entiat River, trying to control this massive blaze.

Clear skies means choppers can fly again -- giving crews on the ground a bird's eye view of how much progress is being made to contain the blaze.

"We still have engines protecting structures, we're doing triage, work around the structures and prepping them," said Incident spokesman Nick Mickel. "At the same time we're putting crews and dozers out in areas where we want to do some direct attack -- build firelines close to the fire itself and hopefully we can burn those pieces out and contain the fire."

At Tamela Baldwin's home, the sprinklers are going non-stop.

From her front yard, flames charred the hillside and the sprinklers will hopefully extinguish any embers landing nearby.

"Just to help keep the ashes from coming over to the house a little bit, too," Baldwin said. "Keep em off the yards and everything green and hopefully keep away the fire."

She said she's a "little nervous, little nervous. But we have the river there and there's firemen along the river and they're doing a good job keeping everything away."

A level 3 mandatory evacuation order is in place for 42 homes and 122 others have been told they might have to leave at a moment's notice.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Another blaze -- the 25 Mile Creek Fire -- started Thursday west of Lake Chelan. It has burned about 400 acres and is zero percent contained. But the incident command said fire suppression efforts continue to contain the fire to its initial area of approximately 400 acres.

The fire is 25 miles from the city of Lake Chelan and located near the terminus of the South Shore Road, and 1 1/2 miles east of Darby Draw. The entire South Shore Road adjacent to Lake Chelan remains open to the public, as does the 25 Mile Creek State Park. A Level 3 mandatory evacuation order by the Chelan County sheriff remains in effect for  Shady Pass Road, affecting about 6-10 households.

A bigger fire near Spokane has blackened about 1,000 acres. It is about 30 percent contained.