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Mills Canyon Fire grows slowly but lightning could come Sunday

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Firefighters wait as a flames move down Spencer Canyon Thursday night toward Highway 97A. The Mills Canyon Fire has reached Highway 97A in many areas south of Entiat.

Update at 1:30 p.m. Sunday:

ENTIAT — Thunderstorms continue to worry fire officials as they work to contain the Mills Canyon Fire near Entiat.The National Weather Service predicts a 20 percent chance of lightning tonight and a 30 percent chance on Monday. “If such storms do materialize, they carry the dual threat of both new ignitions and strong, erratic winds on existing fires,” fire officials said in a press release.As of this morning, fire officials said, the blaze remains at 21,823 acres in size and is 22 percent contained.

As of Saturday evening:

WENATCHEE — The Mills Canyon Fire grew slowly in the last 24 hours and was 22 percent contained late Saturday morning.

As of 11 a.m. Saturday, the fire had burned 21,823 acres, up slightly from 20,394 on Friday, said fire spokesman Rick Acosta.

No structures have been lost, and winds today are expected to blow 8 to 10 mph. Fire officials are worried, however, about Sunday night when there is a 30 percent chance of lightning, Acosta said. That may come with gusty and erratic winds.

Level 3 evacuations remain along Entiat River Road from Dinkleman Canyon up to roaring Creek Road, where 42 structures could be threatened. All other areas are in either Level 1 or 2, Acosta said.

Level 3 is the most serious level, with residents being asked to leave the area.

A total of 646 firefighters are on scene.

The most important thing is that aggressive firefighting is taking place without any injuries in this steep terrain and in these dry, hot conditions,” Acosta said.

Highway 97A reopened to through traffic Friday evening.

The Mills Canyon Fire began on private land Tuesday and the cause is under investigation, Acosta said.

Acosta said some residents in Hay, Allala and Nahahum canyons have received Level 1 notifications but they should not worry about imminent danger. “We are making people aware but also using the notifications as a tool to keep people out of the area because it can get them toward the fire,” he said.

The increasing complexity of the fire and the potential for rapid growth prompted agency administrators to request a more advanced incident management team. The Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 3, lead by Incident Commander Ed Lewis, assumed command Saturday morning.

The 25-Mile Creek Fire, burning near the end of the pavement on South Shore Road was expected to be 100 percent contained by noon today, with 100 percent control by 6 p.m. Sunday, Acosta said. That fire has burned 240 acres. It began on private land and the cause is under investigation.

Reach Dee Riggs at 509-664-7147 or .