Wenatchee Complex Fire Update, September 17, 2012 9:00p.m.
Incident: Wenatchee Complex Wildfire
Thanks to the efforts of the Washington Department of Natural Resources, midlevel fire managers from Canada will join the firefighting effort today.
Jeff Pendleton, Incident Commander for the Wenatchee Fire Complex, told firefighters "we have been developing plans as we have been fighting fire. One missing key element has been the right mix of resources. We have a good plan and now we have the force to implement that plan. We have a force of over 1800 firefighters, crews, engines, and aviation assets. It is time to engage the plan and make our efforts leap forward."
Firefighters have not been without their challenges. Yesterday, the First Creek Fire broke through the hand line on Slide Peak. National Guard helicopters provided numerous water bucket drops in assistance to the Vale Hot Shot crew. The crew was able to reestablish control of the slop-over and limited the growth. The National Guard helicopters also helped put out a spot fire which occurred nearby.
A combination of factors continue to challenge the firefighting effort: Smoky conditions have caused limited visibility, dangerous burning and/or standing dead trees, steep terrain, rolling logs and rocks, plus extremely dry vegetation all contribute to firefighting dangers.
The high pressure weather system sitting on top of the Wenatchee Valley will bring inversions in the morning and cause winds to be terrain driven. The worst air quality will be in the late night and morning hours because the smoke gets trapped near the ground during morning temperature inversions. This weather pattern is expected to continue through the week.
The public is asked to use caution in and around Entiat where over 600 firefighters are based at the Entiat City Park; vehicles will be entering and exiting Highway 97A.
A swing shift, from 11 am to 11 pm, has been added to assist burn out operations and then hold and monitor the fire into the evening.
The Canyon Fire, directly west of Wenatchee, is 50% contained. Evacuation levels have been modified; Number 1 Canyon is at a level 1 and Number 2 Canyon from above the gun club to the end and Stiss Canyon is a level 2. Today, crews mopped up 250 feet into the perimeter of the fire. A strike team of engines will patrol through the night, watching for any unexpected fire activity. The tremendous amount of resources utilized during the beginning of this fire has paid off with no loss of structures or injuries. The Canyon Fire is approximately 7575 acres. Up-to-date information on evacuations can be heard on local media in Wenatchee or by checking www.inciweb.org/incident/3258.
The Byrd Canyon Fire, located just north of Entiat, is also in patrol status. It is 45% contained and approximately 13,978 acres in size. Resources are being transitioned to other fires in the area as they complete their assignments.
The Peavine Canyon Fire, located southwest of Wenatchee in upper Mission Creek/Devils Gulch, is burning in shrub and pine forest. It is 6,252 acres in size. Line construction and burning operations are underway on this fire. A special swing shift of personnel is in place to monitor and mop up this operation into the night. Burning operations began around 2:00 pm and are reported to be going well. The burnout operations were along Forest Service Road (FSR) 9712 south to Mission Peak and along the Peavine Canyon control line. This fire is 10% contained.
The Poison Canyon Fire, located south of Cashmere, is burning in shrub and pine. It is approximately 3,469 acres. Hand lines were improved and reinforced today on the north edge of the fire in preparation for a burnout operation to protect developed areas in the Brisky and Bender canyons. Along other perimeters crews continue to utilize roads and ridgelines for indirect fire line. Structures protection is in place for Tripp and Mission Creek area. A dozer line has been constructed between the fire and properties in Camas Meadows on the West side of the fire. This fire is 10% contained.
The First Creek Fire, located 10 miles west of Lake Chelan, is approximately 1,242 acres. It is burning in very difficult and steep terrain. Helicopters are supporting a burn out operation and firefighters on the ground. Scouting and construction of contingency lines and structure protection is also planned in First Creek and Granite Falls Creek. A Level 3 evacuation remains in place for First Creek and Granite Falls Creek. This fire is 20% contained.
The Pyramid (413 acres) and Klone Fire, (656 acres) north of Entiat are burning in timber that was severely impacted by disease and insects. Crews on the Klone fire will continue to work with local resource advisors to minimize impact to sensitive and/or threatened resources in the area. Firefighters are protecting thirty seven recreation cabins by clearing vegetation, wrapping fire protective material around the base of the cabins and installing sprinklers on or near the cabins. Fire line improvements along Entiat Road, County Road 19 will continue.
The Bassalt Fire, approximately 10 miles north of Lake Wenatchee in the Chiwawa drainage is approximately 200 acres: and Sears Creek Fire, located in the White River drainage above Lake Wenatchee is approximately 40 acres. These fires pose no immediate danger to structures.
The Cashmere Mountain Fire, approximately 300 acres, is within the perimeters of the 1994 Rat and Hatchery fire. It does not pose a danger to structures at the present time. A group of rappellers and smoke jumpers hiked in to this fire and are working to put in control lines where possible
Fires within the Yakima Complex, in Kittitas County south and west of the Wenatchee Complex, continue to actively burn, with evacuations on going. The Yakima Complex has been divided in two and is now being managed by two Washington State Incident Management Teams.
The Incident Management Team continues to have initial attack responsibility for all wildland fires within Chelan County. Resources will be mobilized when there is a new start.
The area is extremely dry and conditions are right for rapid fire growth on existing fires and new fire starts. All outdoor burning is restricted and campfires are only allowed in designated campgrounds Wilderness on National Forest Lands in Chelan County.
The Incident Management Team would like to express appreciation to the community for your support and help in our efforts to suppress these fires. It is vital that the community cooperate with evacuations, road closures, and avoiding areas of high traffic for fire suppression.