Cle Elum wildfire 57 percent contained

YAKIMA — Fire crews reached 57 percent containment Monday on a central Washington wildfire that has burned dozens of homes.

Crews worked to gain the upper hand on several wildfires burning east of the Cascade Mountains in advance of predicted thunderstorms that could bring lightning and possibly new blazes.

The Taylor Bridge Fire east of Cle Elum has burned across more than 36 square miles of grass, sagebrush and timber. About 1,000 firefighters were fighting the blaze. On Monday, some of them conducted controlled burns of potential fuel.

Fire management officials said they hoped for full containment by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a new, lightning-caused fire near Wenatchee was reported close to full containment. The Keane Ranch Fire has burned 1 square mile of grass, brush and timber. It has not threatened or damaged any structures. That fire was reported Sunday.

Most of Eastern Washington was under a fire watch Monday due to the high temperatures and low humidity.

Thunderstorms were forecast for a wide swath of north-central Washington through Tuesday, said Steven Van Horn, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Spokane. But he said once those storms blow through, temperatures should begin to cool off through Friday.

The Taylor Bridge Fire started Aug. 13 at a bridge construction project. The exact cause remains under investigation.

Two firefighters were also monitoring a wildfire burning near the confluence of Lost River and Monument Creek, nearly 20 miles northwest of Winthrop. The blaze, also started by lightning, is burning in steep terrain in the Pasayten Wilderness.

A lack of safe access prevents firefighters from tackling the blaze directly. Portions of the Monument Creek Trail are closed due to the fire, which has burned about 50 acres.

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