Burned 22 acres; cause under investigation
Swift response from firefighters, water-scooping helicopters and a large-capacity retardant plane controlled a wildfire on Vintin Road near Carlton that threatened half a dozen homes on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Fire crews from all four Okanogan County Fire District 6 stations — Twisp, Winthrop, Carlton and Mazama — plus half a dozen engines each from and Okanogan County Fire District 3 in Omak and Douglas-Okanogan Fire District 15 in Brewster responded to the blaze, which started around 3 p.m.
When firefighters first arrived, the fire, officially called the Leecher Fire, was making a significant run and spotting toward the valley floor, threatening homes, District 6 Fire Chief Cody Acord said. With very dry fuels and unseasonably warm weather, there was the potential for a serious blaze, he said.
Crews from the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the U.S. Forest Service and smokejumpers from the North Cascades Smokejumper Base also responded to the fire. It’s fortunate that aircraft was available on short notice, Acord said.
FD6 crews spent time protecting residences in the path of the fire as the wind kept shifting, Acord said. Crews worked together for six hours to keep the fire from spreading into the hills, according to FD6.
In all, the fire burned 22 acres in grass, brush and timber, DNR Northeast Region Public Information Officer Guy Gifford said.
Shortly before 5 p.m., Okanogan County Emergency Management issued a Level 2 alert, telling people in the Vintin Road/Leecher Canyon area to be ready to evacuate. It was reduced to a Level 1 (be aware of a fire in the area) at 9 p.m.
FD6 was able to start releasing resources at about 8 p.m. DNR crews remained at the scene overnight, and three DNR engines and a monitoring plane were still mopping up on Thursday, Sept. 29, Gifford said.
The cause is under investigation. A DNR investigator was at the scene shortly after the fire started, Gifford said.
The forecast is for dry weather with temperatures above normal through the first week of October, according to the National Weather Service.