Discovery Bay: Small Protection Island fire threatens wildlife sanctuary

DISCOVERY BAY — A three-acre wildfire on Protection Island caused more than one local biologist to panic Thursday.

The island is used by nearly three-fourths of the nesting seabirds of Puget Sound, according to Menzies Project naturalist Chrissy McLean.

Had dry conditions prevailed over wildland firefighters, the result could have been devastating to the area sea bird population, said Lou Schwartz, captain of the Port Townsend-based Menzies Project ship, Mary Beth.

A half-dozen National Park Service firefighters were called in to fight the blaze on a sand spit on the west end of the 364-acre island.

It was all but extinguished by Thursday night.

Protection Island sits at the head of Discovery Bay off Cape George.

Reported night before

The fire was first reported around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night, said Donna Gallup, administrative support assistant at the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Complex in Port Angeles.

The fire was contained to brush and driftwood in the 48-acre Zella M. Schultz Seabird Sanctuary.

At midafternoon Thursday, small flames were still visible in the brush and white smoke plumes rose as firefighters used water pumped from Discovery Bay to fight the blaze.

No cause of the fire has been determined, Gallup said.

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