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Skyline Fire snuffed; trails reopen

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WENATCHEE — Roads and trails near the charred hillside of Sunday’s Skyline Drive Fire are clear and open for public use.

Roads and trails reopened around 6 p.m. Monday when the last of the firefighting crews pulled out, said Rich Magnussen, Chelan County Emergency Management specialist.

The Skyline fire was one of a handful of big and sometimes dangerous fires ignited in North Central Washington during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

At 1,500 acres, the Rock Hill Fire near McNeil Canyon, is the largest and continues to burn this morning.

Authorities say fires that were started by fireworks routed 100 campers from Banks Lake and threatened 22 homes near Orondo.

At least 15 small fires caused by fireworks were also reported in the Wenatchee Valley on the Fourth of July alone.

Authorities have not yet announced a cause for the Skyline Drive Fire, although an ignition point has been pinpointed just off Skyline Drive. Investigators with the state Department of Natural Resources are expected to issue a report in the next few days, Magnussen said.

The blaze was reported around 2:15 a.m. Sunday and quickly threatened homes as it swept up the hillside.

The fire also had the potential to threaten homes in No. 2 Canyon. No structures were damaged, but on Sunday eight homes along Skyline Drive were placed under Level 3 evacuation orders (residents advised to leave) due to expected high winds. Another 60 homes in No. 2 Canyon received Level 1 notices (be alert to nearby fire) and were urged to prepare for evacuation. All evacuation notices were lifted by 10 a.m. Monday.

About 100 firefighters hit the blaze hard on Sunday with aerial water drops, pumper trucks and hand crews.

Crews successfully defended firelines through Sunday afternoon and worked through the evening and into Monday to extinguish hot spots, Magnussen said.

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business or follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.