WENATCHEE — Fire officials have determined the Rooster Comb Fire that scorched a Wenatchee hillside in August was caused by a person cutting a metal culvert.

The 88-acre fire began Aug. 29 on the 2300 block of Methow Street after sparks from a power saw set grass on fire, said Chelan County Fire Marshal Bob Plumb.

A property owner was developing a home site and wanted to install a culvert in a ditch, Plumb said. He called the decision to use a cutoff saw “foolish.” A cut-off saw is a circular saw used to cut through hard materials.

The fire was contained two days later and controlled by Sept. 6. “Contained” means a fireline surrounds the entire fire, while “controlled” indicates the fire is extinguished.

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A brush fire burned about 88 acres near Rooster Comb in the Wenatchee Foothills in late August.

No structures were damaged. Much of the property that burned is owned by a gold-mining operation, Lovitt Mining Company, according to a company spokesman.

No charges have been filed against the property owner, Plumb said.

Costs to fight the fire are estimated at $350,000, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.

Plumb said firefighting groups that responded to the fire, specifically the state Department of Natural Resources and Chelan County Fire District 1, may still seek restitution for what it cost them to fight the fire.

“It’s possible for us to seek restitution. It is within our rights to do that however, we’ll have to look further into it,” said Chief Brian Brett with Fire District 1. “When accidents happen, I don’t know that we would pursue remediations.”

He added they would in instances of reckless behavior or arson.

A DNR spokesperson said Wednesday morning the agency has not determined whether to pursue restitution.

The result of the fire investigation is in contrast to a rumor spread after the fire that the blaze was caused by a person living in an RV on Methow Street.

“The people in the RVs had nothing to do with the start of this fire,” Plumb said.

This story was updated Wednesday morning with a response from the state Department of Natural Resources.

Pete O’Cain: (509) 664-7152


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