By Ann McCreary
The Gilbert/Crescent Fire grew from 250 acres to approximately 4,500 acres between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning (Aug. 2). A public meeting regarding the Gilbert Fire will be held at the Methow Valley Community Center tonight (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the fire and potential evacuations.
A Level 2 evacuation notice in effect as of early afternoon Thursday for residents above the road closure at the intersection of Buttermilk Road and Twisp River Road, and emergency managers indicated a Level 3 evacuation for that area may be imminent.
Level 2 means prepare now to go immediately; Level 3 means leave immediately.
With predicted weather, the fire is expected to continue to move eastward and could result in an elevation to a Level 3 for upper Twisp River residents in the near future. A Type 1 team has been ordered and briefing for that team is expected to occur on Friday morning. The fire is 0 percent contained.
The Okanogan County Sheriff’s office has advised owners of animals in the evacuation area to make a plan for moving themselves and their animals from the fire path. They advise contacting friends, or farmers or ranchers to arrange for a safe place.
The fire grew due to high temperatures and gusty winds. A 1-acre spot fire located approximately 2 miles from the main fire was lined by hand crews Wednesday night.
A Type 3 Incident Management Team from Arizona arrived Wednesday and will be replaced by the Type 1 team on Friday. Fire management on Thursday focused on developing short-term and long-term plans to address the fire’s behavior and a strategy for containment. Crews are being used to scout contingency lines and continue to assess and begin structure protection efforts for Twisp River residences. About 75 people are assigned to the fire as of Thursday.
The southeastern edge of the Crescent Fire was just above Reynolds Creek Thursday morning, about 17 miles from the Town of Twisp. The hillsides above the Twisp River drainage have heavy fuels, including large amounts of dead, standing trees, said Laurie Dowie, a public information officer for the fire.
Cooler temperatures are expected. Low humidity with gusty winds are anticipated to continue, which will likely result in continued extreme fire conditions Thursday.
Closures as a result of the fire include Twisp River Road #4440 from the intersection with Buttermilk Road #43 to the terminus at Roads End Campground; south side Twisp River Roads #4430, #4435, #4440 from the intersection with Buttermilk Road #43 to the end at Twisp River Horsecamp. All trailheads and trails originating from these roads are closed. Travel on Thompson Ridge Road #4410 and Bridge Creek #4415 is not advised at this time.
Along Twisp River Road people should remain alert for heavy fire traffic as equipment and personnel will be travelling the roadways. Campfires are not allowed anywhere on the Okanogan – Wenatchee National Forest.
The fire was started by lightning on July 28. Fire information can be found at and https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/6069/.