Fire continues to burn in Vansycle Canyon

Officials believe the blaze near Hatch Grade Road was human-related.

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WALLULA -- The Vansycle Canyon Fire in southwestern Walla Walla County continued to burn today as crews worked to contain the blaze.

The fire, which started Sunday afternoon, remained at about 10,000 acres and was about 60 percent contained today, said Tom Reilly, public information officer with the state Incident Management Team. "The fire was pretty quiet overnight," he said. There was a small breach on the northeast corner of the fire line about 6 a.m. involving about 100 acres, but crews were at work to contain it.

State firefighting resources were mobilized Monday morning to fight the blaze, which was initially called the Hatch Grade Fire. The fire was burning south of U.S. Highway 12 and bounded on the west by Hatch Grade Road and stretched east into the canyon.

The fire was burning in sagebrush and Conservation Reserve Program lands. It had not spread into any wheat fields and had not damaged any of the numerous wind turbines stretching across the ridges in the area. No structures have been threatened and no injuries have been reported, Reilly said. Traffic on Highway 12 has not been affected.

Two helicopters, four wildland fire engines, two helicopters, water tenders and three bulldozers have been brought in to fight the fire. In addition a Type 3 Incident Management Team and two 20-person hand crews have been brought in to supplement local firefighters on the scene.

Washington State Patrol Deputy Chief David Karnitz said in a release Monday the cause was thought to be human-related.

A command post for the fire was initially set up in Wallula but later moved to the Fire District 5 station in Burbank. The State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Murray has been activated to coordinate state assistance for the fire and personnel from the Office of the State Fire Marshal will be on scene to coordinate dispatch of resources.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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