Here’s your Thursday fire update on August 16.
Winds are increasing today with sustained winds up to 20 mph in the valleys and stronger gusts possible at the ridgetops. Vegetation burning on the ground can quickly climb trees, which means crowning is likely. As the smoke lifts in the valleys, residents might see smoke plumes coming from the interior of the fire’s perimeter.
Cougar Creek Fire
Containment: 35 percent
Evacuation levels were downgraded today across the Entiat Valley area. Entiat River Road north from Mad River Road to the end of Entiat River Road, Ardenvoir, and Mad River Road are reduced from Level 3 to Level 2. Although roadblocks will not be staffed, deputies will patrol the valley and strictly enforce the lower speed limit of 25 mph.
Evacuation levels at Entiat River Road from Crum Canyon north to Ardenvoir and all of Crum Canyon Road are reduced from Level 2 to Level 1.
All other Level 1 evacuation notices have been lifted.
Residents saw helicopters flying the Cougar Creek Fire yesterday. In Grandma Creek, on the northeast perimeter, the fire was active and the helicopters dropped water, on a hotspot that presented a rollout hazard. In areas around Potato Creek, helicopters dropped fire within the interior of the fire’s perimeter to reinforce a stronger containment line.
Along the fire’s southern perimeter, increased temperatures and winds resulted in a two-acre spot fire that firefighters immediately suppressed. Crews worked to contain it through the evening; and today, they expect to have it fully contained.
Thursday brings changes in the fire behavior. “This is a look up, look down, and look around day,” says Fire Behavior Analyst Jeff Shelton. The winds are cresting the Cascades, moving smoke out, and allowing heat in. “What flames were creeping yesterday will be chewing today.” There is potential Thursday for spot fires and burning inside of the fire’s perimeter. Residents can expect to see smoke plumes.
Crews rappelled from a helicopter into the Lost Fire yesterday. They patrolled the perimeter and camped at the fire to monitor it. It is holding at 114 acres and remains in patrol status. Tomorrow the Rogue River Hotshots will get to the fire and spend the next few days on scene ensuring it is completely contained and poses no threat.
Bannock Lakes Fire
This lightning-caused fire is approximately 17 miles west of Stehekin in the Glacier Peaks Wilderness. The fire is currently around 444 acres. It is burning among large rocky outcroppings and isolated clusters of timber in steep, inaccessible terrain. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) is closed from Suiattle Pass to High Bridge. The PCT detour is from Suiattle Pass to Stehekin. More information and a map is available at www.pcta.org. Aerial observers continue to monitor the fire.
The Whitepine Fire, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, is approximately three miles south of Stevens Pass Nordic Center and 19 miles northwest of Leavenworth. This lightning-caused fire remains at 10 acres.
Fire traffic will increase in Leavenworth, primarily on Icicle Road and East Leavenworth Road. Motorists are encouraged to drive slowly. The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office has also lowered the speed limit to 25 MPH on Entiat River Road between Mad River Road and to the end of the road (approximately near milepost 25).
Smoke from the Cougar Creek and Lost Fires continue to be visible from surrounding communities. Individuals with respiratory problems are encouraged to use N95 masks.
Transition of Incident Command Post and Teams
The incident command post is moving today from the Entiat School to the Fish Hatchery in Leavenworth because Entiat students are returning to class.
At Thursday’s morning briefing, Chelan County Fire District #8 Chief Mike Asher thanked California Interagency Incident Management Team 5. “We had zero loss of homes. We would have lost structures without your firefighters and your leadership. On behalf of our residents, I thank you.”
The Pacific Northwest Team 3 (Type 1) has arrived and assumes command tomorrow at 6 a.m.