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U.S., Canadian teams battle wildfire together

— Firefighters from the U.S. and Canada joined forces Wednesday to battle the Newby Lake Fire, which is burning on both sides of the international border northwest of town.

“From the first day of the incident, there has been international coordination and cross-boundary firefighting,” said Incident Commander Ed Lewis. “We formalized some of those processes yesterday with a delegation letter assigning responsibility for managing the entire Newby Lake Fire” to Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 3.”

The intent of operations in Division Z, which is the portion of the fire within Canada, is to keep the fire from taking hold in one of the drainages and finding its way back south into the U.S. again.

“This fire has already shown its ability torch, spot and get established in unburned drainages that are filled with dead and down trees, ripe to be burned,” Lewis said. “We want to keep it from sneaking around through the back door again.”

In addition to firefighting efforts on the north end of the fire, firefighters are working on contingency lines along the eastern and southern perimeters.

As of Wednesday morning, the fire had blackened 5,065 acres of trees. It is 15 percent contained.

Two hot shot crews were delivered by helicopter to the northern area of the fire in Canada. They are coordinating with 40 Canadian firefighters and have good communication with them, the management team said. Crews will build hand line to prevent fire from moving back into the U.S.

Hot spots are being mopped up along the eastern portion of the fire. Hand lines are being extended in areas equipment cannot access. This objective is to minimize area burned in the Loomis State Forest.

On the south end of the fire, crews worked to complete a fire line “tie-in” to the 2006 Tripod Fire area. Mop-up was completed on a spot fire between the fire and the southern line.

The two hot shot crews in Canada continue to build line on the northeastern edge of the fire. Very little active fire remains in that area.

Crews will continue to remove snags and improve/extend mechanical lines on the east side of the fire. At the south end of the fire, firefighters will continue to improve both hand and mechanical lines that tie into the old burn.

The hand line portion of the southern line will be plumbed with hose lines in anticipation of holding the fire should it grow in the future.

An area closure remains in place on all national forest lands and state Department of Natural Resources lands affected by the fire.

Meanwhile, in Douglas County, crews continue to mop up a 22,000-acre-plus complex of fires burning southeast of Mansfield near Jameson Lake and southwest of Waterville in the Palisades area.

Some firefighters have been released from the fire, which is 90 percent contained. The state Type 3 management team expects to turn over the fires to local agencies Thursday morning.

The Douglas County Complex fires started July 10 as five lightning-caused fires that merged into two larger ones.

No structures have been lost; there have been no injuries. All evacuation orders have been lifted.

Brush, grass, sage and wheat have burned.

Back in the North Cascades, the Thunder Creek Fire within the North Cascades National Park Complex is 40 percent contained and has burned across 103 acres.

Almost half the fire area is inaccessible to firefighters because of steep terrain.

Trail and campground closures remain in effect.

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