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Boulders And Bees Make Chelan Complex Fires A Hard Fight

The Chelan Complex fires have grown to more than 112,000 acres and still have Lake Chelan surrounded. The air is so filled with smoke the horizon of the lake is no longer visible from the south end.

Fire crews are trying to control the fire coming down the slope, but they said it's very difficult because boulders, snakes and bees are making it really a hard fight.

Kurt Stich, a crew boss with Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue, said that the fire was burning away the grass and trees that have been holding large boulders in place for years.

“We’re seeing 100, 200, 300 pound rocks rolling down the hill,” he said.

In addition to the rattlesnakes that live in the hills, Stich said bees “are another big issue right now.”

“A number of our guys have been stung multiple times,” Stich said. “So those and the steepness of the terrain are the things that these guys are dealing with on an everyday basis.”

Helicopters are flying overhead dropping buckets of water on the hottest spots on the fire trying to slow it down. There are two National Guard crews trying to help control this fire as firefighter resources are really short all across the west.

The hot weather and dry winds are also contributing to the difficult conditions. Temperatures are expected to reach triple-digits on Wednesday.

"It’s hot," said firefighter Matt Eagen from Spanaway, Washington. "The breeze is nice, but it’s not nice for the fires. I hate it when the breeze comes, but it feels really good."

The Chelan Complex fires started Friday from multiple lightning strikes.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.