Tribe battles fire in Hellgate preserve

— Firefighters have completed initial fire lines around most of the fire perimeter of the Rattlesnake Fire, which is burning southeast of Keller on the Colville Indian Reservation.

The fire, within the Hellgate Game Preserve, had burned across 364 acres as of Friday morning, July 13.

The human-caused fire began a little after 1 p.m. Thursday, July 12. As of mid-day Friday, it was 5 percent contained.

Initial suppression efforts included nine smokejumpers, two 20-person crews, eight engines, one air attack craft, one type 2 helicopter and one type 3 helicopter. Bulldozer lines and existing roads were used to help contain the fire.

“Helicopters and winged aircraft were very helpful in cooling the hot spots to allow ground forces time to engage,” said an announcement from the Mount Tolman Fire Center.

On the ground, firefighters are dealing with steep and rocky slopes and dead trees from the previous Rattlesnake Canyon Fire five years ago.

One structure and cultural resources are threatened.

Temperatures in the mid-90s were expected Friday, with southwest winds at 6-11 mph with gusts up to 16 mph.

The tribe is coordinating with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and state Department of Natural Resources. The Type 3 Northeast Washington Team 3 is expected to take control of the fire fight at 4 p.m. Friday.

Base camp will be at Creston High School.

Tribal natural resources law enforcement asks boaters to stay clear of firefighting efforts in Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.


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