SEATTLE (AP) — Washington Department of Natural Resources lands east of the Cascades will reopen to public access on Thursday. The department closed those lands on July 23 because of extreme heat, drought, wildfire danger and large fires burning across the West that had stretched wildfire resources. Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said in a news release that conditions have improved dramatically thanks to tireless efforts of firefighters, an expanded air fleet, and a focus on attacking fires quickly to limit spread. Firefighters have battled some 1,750 fires. A statewide burn ban remains in effect and is set to expire on Sept. 30.