Colockum Tarps Fire Update August 8, 2013 0900 Hrs
Incident: Colockum Tarps Wildfire
Firefighters mopping up, monitoring the western edge of the 70 percent-contained Fire
Fire managers call burnouts and aerial ignition at Colockum Tarps Fire a great success; today’s focus on mop-up inside fire lines near the burnouts
Wenatchee, Wash. – The last remaining fire line surrounding the 80,881-acre Colockum Tarps Fire was successfully burned out yesterday by firefighters – favorable winds ensured that there was no need for water drops during the activity. A light helicopter, equipped with a Plastic Sphere Dispenser (PSD), was used for the aerial ignition of 1,100 acres interior forest within the prepared fire lines along the western perimeter of the fire. The ignition consumed trees and fuels in the top of Tarpiscan drainage that were burning too close to the perimeter.
Fire managers conducted the burnouts to reduce the risk of trees torching and spotting west of the fire into unburned forest. Today, firefighters will continue to mop up the burnout areas and closely monitor fire behavior.
Yesterday temperatures rose to 80 degrees and relative humidity fell to 20 percent at the site of ignition, ensuring a complete, effective burnout. The large volume of smoke emitted from the burnout was visible from many surrounding communities. It dissipated quickly, most of it carried to the east with moderate, westerly transport winds.
An infrared flight last night revealed a lot of heat persisting along the burnout area, which was expected. Firefighters will be hastening mop-up activities today to prevent spotting outside control lines as light winds out of the east and up-canyon winds increase today. Fire continues to burn in interior fuels throughout the fire area. Six helicopters are standing by to provide the firefighters on the ground with bucket drops of water where needed to cool down hot spots remaining from the burnout. These buckets each supply 700 to 2300 gallons.
If conditions allow, a small 15-acre area of unburned fuels in the headwater drainage of Stray Gulch will be ignited today using the PSD. Even though a set of three fire lines have been established to prevent the spread of fire outside of this drainage, fire managers seek additional fortification. Aerial ignition deeper within the canyon will reduce the risk of fire spread outside control lines.
Presently, the entire fire area is surrounded by fire line and firefighters are mopping up remaining hot spots along all perimeters. At some points they are mopping up to 500 feet inside fire lines and cold-trailing – or ensuring by touch that there is no remaining heat threatening fire lines.
Smoke from the burnouts will continue to be visible from points west of the Fire as winds pick up today from the east. Public information officers working at the incident command post in Wenatchee are available throughout the day to provide immediate updates about the fire to the public. Information about burning out and aerial ignition can be found at http://tinyurl.com/lczmjsg.
Excess heavy equipment and aircraft will begin to be demobilized today and made available for other area fires. Some dozers will be retained to continue rehabilitating fire lines along the western perimeter. A low pressure system, bringing with it some precipitation and lightning is expected to arrive from the south on Friday.
Plans are underway to consolidate the two incident command posts at the Kittitas Elementary School where a Type III incident management team under the direction of Bob Marshall will base operations that focus primarily upon patrol and monitoring. The Washington Interagency Incident Management Team #4 under the direction of Brian Gales, incident commander, plans to transfer authority on Sunday, August 11, 2013 after a day of shadowing by Marshall’s team.
Gales extended his appreciation to the communities affected by the fire, thanking citizens, businesses, and the school districts of Wenatchee and Kittitas for their support and cooperation. “Our success suppressing this fire depended upon the hard work of hundreds of local resources who provided the necessary assistance and supplies needed by firefighters to contain this fire and protect the homes, property and lives of people living in Kittitas and Chelan counties,” he said. “On behalf of the Washington Interagency Incident Management Team, I wish to thank everyone for complying with evacuation orders and closures and for allowing us the opportunity to serve,” he said.
Evacuation levels are reassessed daily considering the condition of fire lines, threat from the fire, and the capacity to notify residents of changing conditions. As of 6 a.m. today, Kittitas County Sheriff reduced the Level 3 Evacuation to Level 2 for Colockum Road, Sheep Creek, Trail Creek, Tucker Creek, and Secret Canyon to the end of the paved road. These areas will be open to property owners and fire crews only. There is still significant danger in the area and residents should be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. The Level 3 Evacuation remains in place for Secret Canyon beyond the paved road and upper Parke Creek Road, including Hilltop Lane. Significant threat continues to affect these areas. The map of Kittitas County evacuation areas is available at http://tinyurl.com/jvz3x3u.
All current road closures will remain in effect through the weekend, with a reevaluation of these closures scheduled for Monday, August 12.
The Colockum Tarps Fire has been burning since Saturday, July 27, 2013, through dry grass, sagebrush and timber growing in steep drainages along the western shore of the Columbia River, 11 miles southwest of Wenatchee, Washington. It was human caused. On July 31, the push from easterly winds moved the fire toward sparsely populated areas along the Parke, Caribou and Colockum Roads in Kittitas County where a Level 3 evacuation notice was issued.
Fire Facts – Thursday, August 8, 2013 – 0900 HOURS
Fire Size: approximately 80,881 acres Percent Contained: 70%
Evacuations: Remain in effect in Kittitas and Chelan Counties. There are numerous road closures in the vicinity. In Kittitas County, sheltering is available for people or animals through the Red Cross as the need arises. Please contact the Emergency Operations Center at 509 933-8305 or KittCom at 509 925-8534.
Fuels: Grass, brush, with timber at the higher elevations
Air Resources: One light, three medium, and two heavy helicopters.
Crews: 2 Type I crews; 17 Type II crews
Engines: 53 Dozers: 4 Water Tenders: 16
Total Personnel: Approx. 748
Cost to Date: $8.1 million