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Rain dampens fire slightly; storm spawns three new fires

— Rain that fell Tuesday night over the Devil’s Elbow Fire raised humidity, but didn’t do much toward putting out the 20,287-acre blaze on the Colville Indian Reservation.

Rain and lower temperatures are making direct suppression of the fire and sport fires easier to manage, but thwarted efforts to conduct planned burnouts, Mount Tolman Fire Center spokeswoman Kathy Moses said.

The storm also spawned three new fires as wind knocked down power poles.

“The fires are under containment and will be watched today,” she said Wednesday.

The new fires are along state Highway 21, Jack Creek Road and at the four corners area of Silver Creek Road, all in the Keller area.

After more than a week of firefighting, nearly 800 firefighters have encircled the Devil’s Elbow Complex with containment lines, but containment is at 7 percent. They are continuing to burn out remaining pockets where they can, and slowing the movement of the hottest fronts with water and retardant.

The fire is 10 miles north of Keller along state Highway 21.

The fire prompted evacuations and a Colville tribal Burned Area Emergency Response Team will evaluate the safety of homes before residents will be allowed to return.

A plan is being developed by the management team for the orderly return of residents to their homes by Saturday. About 150 homes and 90 other structures were threatened.

Keller Community Center, 11669 state Highway 21, has served as a shelter.

The lightning-caused fire, which began Aug. 2, so far has resulted in one injury to a firefighter. One unoccupied home and two outbuildings have burned.

Because of the dry conditions and increasing winds, the tribe issued a forest area restriction Tuesday for its members and the public. The restriction closes forested areas to recreational activities, but not timber harvesting.

Firefighting resources include seven Type 1 crews, 18 Type 2, 41 engines, 15 bulldozers, 15 water tenders, five helicopters and two other air attack craft.

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