Lake Chelan wildfire spreads, evacuations may be necessary

LAKE CHELAN -- The wildfire near Lake Chelan has spread to more than 500 acres and officials said that evacuations could be necessary if the fire isn't contained soon.

The fire started late Thursday after and quickly started burning, spreading to the lake where a number of homes and campgrounds are located. It was first reported north of the town of Manson, which is located on the southeastern shores of Lake Chelan. The fire was burning on private and U.S. Forest lands.

What concerns officials are the dry conditions and westerly winds that are pushing the fire closer to Mason. The area is currently under a Level 1 evacuation, meaning that it is not mandatory to leave, but residents should be prepared to leave at a moments notice. Area residents with health problems or special needs have been urged to immediately vacate the area.

"It's steep and it's rocky so it's very difficult to access the fire areas along Lake Chelan," Elka Missal with the U.S. Forest Service said.

The area is also popular among campers and tourists -- a number of whom headed to the area for the long holiday weekend.

"Our vacation's fine -- we're not fazed too much," April Tussey said.

And for most, it's been a typical vacation -- the only thing that's different is that they have a firsthand view of the wildfire. "It's something to look at and when you're camping -- entertainment's entertainment," she said. "Every time the wind blew, the fire connected and it just lit the mountain up."

"Within about 10, 15 minutes we just watched it progress," Shanna McGinty said.

Firefighters continue to arrive in the area -- about 250 of them will be on the fire lines before the end of Friday. Helicopters are currently doing the heavy lifting, dipping into Lake Chelan and dumping water on the flames.