By Marcy Stamper
A hand crew from the U.S. Forest Service had completed a fire line around 30 percent of a 1/10-acre fire caused by lightning near Silver Star Creek on the North Cascades Highway as of Friday afternoon (May 22).
The fire was burning in timber and brush about one-quarter mile off the North Cascades Highway on the south side of the roadway, according to Kathy Busse, assistant fire management officer with the Methow Valley Ranger District.
A seven-person crew hiked in to combat the fire, which was burning on a north-facing slope on the west side of Silver Star Creek, about seven or eight miles west of Mazama. Busse said she was confident they would complete a line around it quickly.
Methow Valley District Ranger Mike Liu said the fire appeared to be burning on a single snag. Liu said they were also focused on keeping holiday motorists from becoming distracted by smoke from the fire.
The Forest Service system recorded about 10 lightning strikes by 8:30 a.m. on May 22 over the previous 24 hours, but this was the only known ignition, said Busse. The fire was reported by a member of the public and a state trooper called Okanogan County dispatch, said Busse.
North Cascades National Park is reporting its first fire of the season, at about 4,000 feet in a rugged, rocky area northwest of Ross Lake, according to Denise Shultz, public information officer for the park.
The Pierce Mountain Fire, started by lightning on Thursday (May 21), is less than an acre and is visible as a tiny smoke plume, said Shultz. The park has requested a helicopter with a water bucket, which has been ordered to start work as soon as possible. Two firefighters are monitoring it from across the canyon. They will dispatch helicopter-borne firefighters if it proves necessary and the terrain permits, said Shultz.
The weather forecast includes a chance of showers and thunderstorms throughout the area for the next few days, according to the Park Service.
There are no closures associated with either fire.