By Marcy Stamper

With rain falling on local fires last week—more than an inch in some places—and cooler temperatures, fire crews have been able to get closer to the two most active fires, the Little Bridge Creek Fire in the Twisp River drainage, and the Upper Falls Fire in the Chewuch drainage.

The moisture cooled the fires sufficiently to allow crews to build control lines directly on the fire perimeter, rather than relying on roads and ridges some distance from the fire, which was necessary when the fire was burning too hot for crews to get in closer.

Even with warmer temperatures early this week, fire behavior, particularly on Little Bridge Creek, has been minimal, and crews have concentrated on building containment lines and mop-up, according to Carol Lagodich, a public information officer with the incident team.

As of Tuesday morning (Aug. 19), the Little Bridge Creek Fire was about 5,000 acres and 64 percent contained. The Upper Falls Fire was more than 8,000 acres and 44 percent contained. There is some smoldering in dead fuels in the Upper Falls Fire near Eightmile Creek and Bud Creek.

The Carlton Complex Fire, at more than 256,000 acres, is 97 percent contained. There have been a few isolated smokes within the Carlton Complex interior, but fire managers are not concerned because of the extent of burned fuel around them, said Lagodich.

An infrared flight Monday night detected no new fires as a result of lightning from last week’s storms, but initial attack crews are on stand-by, said Lagodich.

There are no evacuation notices in effect, but several National Forest roads remain closed, including Eightmile and Falls Creek. Finley Canyon Road (where it enters the National Forest) and Polepick Mountain Road on the Loup remain impassable and are closed.

The Methow Valley Ranger District has reopened Twisp River trails and campgrounds, as well as the East Chewuch area, upper West Chewuch area (near Thirtymile), Blackpine Lake and Foggy Dew near Gold Creek.

Trails and campgrounds near Eightmile and Billy Goat on the West Chewuch are still closed.

There were almost 1,400 people working on the three fires as of Tuesday, most assigned to Little Bridge Creek. There is no schedule for complete demobilization, said Lagodich.

For fire information, call 997-0880 or visit inciweb.nwcg.gov.

For road and trail information, call the ranger district at 996-4003 or visit www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/okawen and click on Current Fire Area Closures on the right.