Here’s a summary of information from the major fires in the region, for Saturday, Aug. 29.
A red flag warning is in effect for high winds. An unusually strong front with southerly winds will move through the region, with sustained winds of 35 miles per hour and gusts up to 60 miles per hour possible. The Pacific Northwest Wildfire Coordinating Group took the unusual step of issuing a safety alert warning firefighters and the public for potential risks: rapid fire spread and abrupt changes in the direction of the fire’s movement. Fire behavior analysts expect significant fire growth today on the Tunk Block and Lime Belt Fires. They also expect the Tunk Block Fire to merge with the North Star Fire to the east over the next few days.
* Twisp River (11,831 acres, 96 percent contained). The fire is largely contained and is in mop-up and monitor status. The high winds may cause some torching and flare ups of unburned fuel within the perimeter of the fire.
* Tunk Block Fire (158,892 acres, 10 percent contained). Efforts today are focused on building and securing containment lines on the northern and southern ends of the fire. Hotshot crews completed a burnout operation on the northern end of the fire last night to connect existing fuel breaks and dozer lines. On the southern end, the fire spotted over Highway 155 yesterday and again last night.
* Lime Belt/Blue Lake/Beaver Lake Fire (126,782 acres, 15 percent contained): Firefighters are focused on the northwestern corner of the fire, where they are working to secure fireline in the Sinlahekin Valley. This effort is the top priority of fire managers, who want to keep the fire from spreading to Loomis on the north end of the valley. In addition to building containment line, crews have been working to protect structures north of the fire. On the southwestern corner, crews are attempting to steer the fire toward the Tripod Fire scar.
* Nine Mile Fire (4,720 acres, 95 percent contained): The fire is largely contained and in patrol and monitor status.
UPPER SKAGIT COMPLEX
* Coordinated evaluations by officials with Great Basin Incident Management Team 4, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and National Park Service have determined State Route 20 may open as soon as noon on Sunday (Aug. 30). For the latest update on Highway 20, contact North Cascades Highway Hotline at (360) 707-5055.
With heavy rains forecasted on Saturday, WSDOT will re-evaluate road conditions prior to the tentatively scheduled reopening. The existing closure, until the reopening is effected, remains between the North Cascades National Park Complex entrance sign, approximately 5 miles north of Marblemount, and Rainy Pass at milepost 157.
The higher humidity and intermittent light rain minimized fire activity considerably. The Goodell Fire continued to move slowly toward the southwest as well as to the east on both sides of Highway 20 and Gorge Lake. The fire has held at Goodell Creek. Structure protection of pumps, hose lays, sprinkler systems, and vegetation removal in Diablo and the Environmental Learning Center are in place. The Diablo area, Environmental Learning Center, and Ross Lake Resort remain evacuated until Highway 20 opens. The other fires in the complex are in remote locations and are being monitored – they are not an immediate threat to facilities.
CHELAN COMPLEX/WOLVERINE FIRE/FIRST CREEK FIRE
A significant wind event is forecast for much of the day, which will test containment lines on all fires. Crews will be focused on structure protection and holding lines, with the primary priority being on firefighter and public safety. Plans are underway for relocation of the Incident Command Post at Chelan Falls Park to Confluence State Park in Wenatchee to allow for the most efficient use of limited resources. Timing of relocation is dependent on changing weather conditions.
Chelan Complex (including Gold Creek)
On Thursday, the fire crossed the line at South Fork Gold Creek on the north side. Crews are scouting opportunities to construct a dozer line in the McFarland and Gold Creek areas and structure protection work continues. Goat Mountain continues to be closely monitored and the road to communications sites is being secured. Crews will continue to patrol and mop up the fire in the south, west, and east sections today.
Firefighters were able to connect the containment line and have completed burn out operations south of 25 Mile Creek at the north end of the fire. Crews are patrolling and mopping up this area to hold the line.
The retardant that was dropped on Thursday on the south end of the fire (Entiat drainage) held the fire in place above Pope Creek on Friday. Crews are working in that area to establish an anchor point, which will allow them to begin containment line construction. Structure protection work has been conducted in Pope Creek and firefighters have established hand lines to protect summer homes in that area. Residents of Entiat River Rd., from the community of Brief northward, are under a Level 2 evacuation notice and structure protection is being established in that area. Crews continue to scout for line construction opportunities in the Chiwawa drainage and are preparing for structure protection.
Level 3 evacuations are in place for the South Lakeshore Road area north of Morning Sun Drive. On Friday, a level 3 evacuation was implemented in the Gold Creek area in the northeast corner of the Chelan Complex, south of Carlton and west of Methow. Residents in the area of any of the fires are urged to remain vigilant.