Vansycle Canyon fire nearly contained

Officials say mapping with GPS showed the fire covered about 4,500 acres, less than previously thought.

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WALLULA -- After burning for three days, the Vansycle Canyon Fire was declared 90 percent contained today.

Tom Reilly, public information officer with the state Incident Management Team, said control of the fire is expected to be turned back to Walla Walla County Fire District 6 this afternoon "provided the (district) fire chief is comfortable with the situation."

The fire started Sunday afternoon and scorched hundreds of acres south of U.S. Highway 12 in southwestern Walla Walla County. Initially estimated at 10,000 acres, the size of the blaze was scaled back to 4,508 acres after fire managers were able to accurately map the area with GPS units, Reilly said.

The burned area was bounded on the west by Hatch Grade Road and spread east into the Vansycle Canyon area and south toward the state line.

The fire has been burning in sagebrush and Conservation Reserve Program lands. No structures, including the numerous wind turbines in the area, were damaged and there were no injuries reported.

State resources were mobilized Monday morning at the request of local officials.

Fire crews worked through the night on the fire and "were able to do some really aggressive mop-up work" Reilly said, allowing operations to start being scaled back this morning. Helicopters that had been helping fight the fire were being released and equipment such as wildland fire engines and tankers was being returned to its bases.

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

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