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Diamond Creek Fire grows; state prohibits campfires

— The Diamond Creek Fire has grown to 12,525 acres and moved closer to the U.S.-Canadian border.

The human-caused fire is burning 16 air miles north of Mazama within the Pasayten Wilderness Area and now is about 5.5 miles south of the border. It had been 8.5 miles south of the border for several days.

The blazed started July 23. A total of 187 people are assigned to the fire, as are four helicopters, five engines and five water tenders.

As of today, Aug. 9, crews working south of the fire cleared line construction from Eightmile Road west to Billy Goat Trailhead and east to the Upper Falls Creek Fire scar. The work linked hand line to avalanche chutes and other natural barriers, which can collectively serve as a firebreak if necessary, fire officials said.

A hose-lay and sprinklers are in place to reinforce the line.

Crews plan to finish removing wood and brush from Eightmile Road by Aug. 10.

Fire officials urge caution when traveling nearby roadways, since fire personnel use heavy equipment to haul debris. Contingency line scouting and structure protection assessments are nearing completion south of the fire. So far, 500 structures have been assessed.

Effective Thursday, transfer of command shifts from Pacific Northwest Team 2 National Interagency Incident Management Team to Jason Cain’s Nevada Type 3 Team.

The fire is burning in steep terrain, and fire growth is driven largely by topography and fuel availability, officials said. While fire behavior is generally moderate, dry timber stands prompt uphill runs, torching and spotting up to one-half mile.

Infrared mapping shows fire movement north into Tony Creek, west into Johnny Creek drainage and backing gradually southeast into the Drake Creek drainage.

Visibility remains hazy, with poor air quality. People with compromised respiratory systems should avoid outdoor physical activity, fire officials said.

As of 1:30 p.m. Aug. 9, the air quality index for Omak was 151 (unhealthy), while the index for Twisp was 184 and for Winthrop was 199 (also both unhealthy).

Effective at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 11, the state Department of Natural Resources is banning all campfires on its protected lands in Ferry, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens counties, and Lincoln County north of Highway 2.

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