Highway through Washington's North Cascades National Park to reopen

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A section of a major cross-state highway that closed earlier this month due to a wildfire in Washington state's North Cascades National Park will reopen Wednesday.

The Washington State Department of Transportation initially closed State Route 20 or the North Cascades Freeway between Newhalem and Rainy Day Pass on August 4 to ensure the safety of firefighters as they battled the Sourdough Fire. The highway reopened the following week, then closed again on August 11 between Newhalem and Silver Star.

Transportation officials said Tuesday, after crews cleared rocks and debris, that the highway would reopen at 8 a.m. Wednesday to passing travelers. Authorities urged travelers not to line up on the highway before it reopened and warned that the highway could be closed again due to fire activity.

No stopping will be allowed on the highway as fire crews continue to work on the Sourdough and Blue Lake fires in the area. All recreation in the area east of Newhalem remains closed by the National Park Service, transportation officials said.

The Sourdough Fire was started on July 29 by a lightning strike near Diablo on the steep terrain of the Ross Lake Recreation Area. It has burned 9.3 square miles (24 square kilometers) and is 12% contained.

The Blue Lake fire started on August 14 about 13 miles (20.9 kilometers) southwest of Mazama and has charred less than a square mile of wood and brush. Its cause has not been determined and containment was 5% as of Tuesday.

The North Cascades Freeway is the northernmost pass connecting eastern and western Washington.

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