By Ann McCreary
The Diamond Creek Fire, which has been burning in the Pasayten Wilderness for 10 weeks, is winding down and U.S. Forest Service crews are focusing on repairing damage resulting from actions taken to suppress the wildfire.
Crews are repairing areas around contingency fire lines that were constructed south of the fire area. Monday (Oct. 1) was the last day that heavy equipment was used as part of that repair work. The fire activity is being monitored from the ground and by air.
Pockets of active fire remain in the Monument Creek and Pat Creek drainages inside the fire perimeter. “It’s mostly interior areas that are burning,” said Beth Kenna, information officer for the Diamond Creek Fire.
The fire has burned 128,272 acres — approximately 97,140 acres in the United States and 31,132 acres in Canada. It was considered 85 percent contained as of Tuesday (Oct. 3).
Due to smoldering stump holes, dead and damaged hazard trees, and active burning in some areas, trail closures for this area of the Pasayten are expected to remain in effect for some time.
A key focus in coming weeks is completion of the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment. Working with local emergency management officials, Forest Service hydrologists, soil scientists and other experts will evaluate the potential for future flooding or debris flows on public lands affected by the fire.
At the end of last week, North Cascade Smokejumpers unwrapped Goat Peak Lookout, which had been wrapped with heat-reflective material to protect it in case the fire had reached the lookout. Smokejumpers also completed trail clearing suppression repair work around the Pasayten Airfield over the weekend, and crews worked at suppression repair in the Hidden Lakes area.
Most roads on the south side of Diamond Creek Fire are now open, but some road closures are still in effect. They include Forest Service 5130-000 Road (Eightmile Creek Road) from approximately 2 miles above Honeymoon Campground to Billy Goat Trail Head; 5227-100 Road (Yellow Jacket Road); and 5225-650 Road. The area closure boundary has not changed.
People should be aware that there still is a countywide burn ban in effect for Okanogan County and should check with the Forest Service and Department of Natural Resources for additional fire restrictions on those lands.
The Diamond Creek Fire was reported on July 23 by a hiker near the Diamond Creek Trail. An initial attack by eight smokejumpers and a 20-person crew was unable to contain the fire, which has been determined to be human-caused.