MONROE — Fire crews were struggling to knock down a forest fire southeast of Monroe on Tuesday evening.
The fire had eaten through nearly 2 acres of state-owned land on a ridge above North High Rock Road. It is a forested area crisscrossed by gravel roads.
Nearby homes weren’t in danger, and officials late Tuesday said the blaze was nearly under control.
“We think we got to it in time,” said Mark Morrow, spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources.
Plumes of grayish-black smoke puffed into the air above the hillside and were visible from miles across the valley.
Firefighters arrived about 11 a.m. and had to hack a trail uphill through piles of logging slash and brush to reach the fire.
By lunchtime, a helicopter was zooming to the fire and dumping loads of water onto the blaze.
By afternoon, a dozen firefighters worked furiously along an edge of the fire heading toward a stand of trees. They used chain saws and Pulaski tools to carve a line between the creeping fire and the bone-dry brush.
Acrid smoke and the roar of chain saws floated through the air.
Joel King, who lives less than a mile from the flames, drove his truck below the ridge to watch the fire’s progress. He came home after his friend spotted choppers delivering water to the fire.
He wasn’t concerned about his home.
“I know those guys know what they’re doing,” he said.
The change in the weather helped firefighting efforts, said Morrow from the DNR. The extended dry spell and warm temperatures late last week prompted officials to issue a “red flag” alert for fire danger throughout Western Washington.
Despite the warnings, fire crews battled numerous brush fires around Snohomish County as people celebrated the Fourth of July with fireworks.
Local firefighters likely will monitor the Monroe-area fire for some time after state crews contain the blaze, he said.
It may take several days to hose down hot spots and wipe out every trace of the fire.
Officials didn’t know Tuesday evening what caused the fire.
“We’ll be investigating,” Morrow said.
Debra Smith: 425-339-3197, firstname.lastname@example.org.