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Harts Pass Road closed; Diamond Creek Fire continues to burn

— Harts Pass Road has been closed because of the Diamond Creek Fire.

The human-caused fire is burning 11 miles north-northwest of Mazama. It started in the Pasayten Wilderness Area and has burned northward into Canada and southward.

Level 2 evacuation notices remain in place for the Mazama, Lost River and Rendezvous areas.

So far, the fire has burned across 95,390 acres in the United States and 23,610 acres in British Columbia. It is 30 percent contained.

On Wednesday, the fire continued to grow in the Monument and Pat Creek drainages, although strong north winds did not move the fire significantly south in either drainage.

In Pat Creek, the small amount of growth was attributed to “the extraordinary work of four helicopters that kept up a steady flow of bucket-drops to cool the advancing front,” said a Thursday morning update from fire managers.

In Monument Creek, the fire is running into rocky ground with sparse fuels the farther south it moves. The decision was made to close Harts Pass Road to public traffic to minimize impediments to suppression activities and for safety in the event evacuation in smoky conditions would be necessary along that narrow mountain road.

Hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail should pursue other options if they were planning to use the Harts Pass Road as an exit from the trail, fire officials said.

A Sept. 13 meeting at the Mazama Community Club drew more than 200 local residents. Fire managers and local agency officials presented an update on fire conditions and details of the Level 2 evacuation notice. Attendees were given an opportunity to ask questions and meet agency officials.

Okanogan County Emergency Manager Maurice Goodall said those in attendance all indicated they had signed up for the county’s emergency alert system. More information is available at okanogandem.org.

A fire crew spent Wednesday night camped near the head of Gate Creek so they could get an early start on working toward completion of the primary fire line north of Mazama. Fire managers are assessing potential lines to the west of the Yellowjacket SnoPark to box the fire in on the southwest side.

Three additional crews were added to the firefighting force Thursday. Structures ahead of the far northeastern end of the fire in the Remmel Creek area will be wrapped with fire resistant material.

A red flag warning is in place for the Methow Valley until 8 p.m. today, Sept. 14, because of gusty winds and low relative humidity. Temperatures on the fire are expected to be 58 degrees with a minimum humidity of 20 percent. Winds will be from the north at 7-11 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

Rain is predicted for Sunday for the low country and snow could fall above 6,000 feet elevation.

Ballard and River Bend campgrounds are closed, along with Harts Pass Road and another 60-plus roads and trails. The Pacific Crest Trail remains open.

The fire was reported July 23.

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