Some Twisp River residents get evacuation warnings; public meeting is tonight

The Gilbert Fire area, as of Aug. 2.

U.S. Forest Service
The Gilbert Fire area, as of Aug. 2.

TWISP – Some Twisp River area residents are under a Level 2 evacuation notice because of the Gilbert Fire, which is burning at the upper end of the drainage.

The notice was issued Wednesday evening, Aug. 1, for the Buttermilk Road-Twisp River Road area.

Meanwhile, a community information meeting is planned for 6:30 p.m. today, Aug. 2, at the Methow Valley Community Center, 201 E. Methow Valley Highway. The meeting had been announced previously for the Twisp Valley Grange Hall, but was moved to accommodate more people, said Okanogan County Emergency Management.

Representatives of the emergency management department, U.S. Forest Service, Fire District No. 6 and the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office will be there to give an update and answer questions about the fire.

The Gilbert Fire is the name being used for two fires – Gilbert and Crescent – that are burning about 21 miles west of Twisp in the Twisp River drainage. The lightning-caused fire was reported July 28 and has blacked around 4,500 acres, said the U.S. Forest Service.

Forest officials said the fire is expected to continue burning eastward and could result in Level 3 (“get out now”) evacuations for upper Twisp River residents.

Twisp River Road is closed from the intersection with Buttermilk Road to the terminus at Roads End Campground. Several other roads – Forest Roads 4430, 4435 and 4440 - in the area also are closed, and travel on Thompson Ridge and Bridge Creek roads is not advised.

A second fire, the Cutthroat Fire, is burning west of Mazama in the Cutthroat area off Highway 20. The fire is 100 percent contained and has burned about 25 acres.

Cutthroat Lake Trail and trailhead, Pacific Crest Trail from Rainy Pass to Snowy Lakes and Forest Road 400 to Cutthroat Lake trailhead all remain closed.

In other fire news:

-The state Department of Natural Resources is using the Washington National Guard to battle blazes on both sides of the Cascades. There are nearly 300 fires in western Washington alone, said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

-DNR is banning outdoor burning statewide on the 13 million acres of land protected by the agency. Franz said 96 percent of experiencing drought-like conditions, which means a high risk of wildfires. The ban does not cover federally managed or tribal lands.

-Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide emergency July 31 for all 39 counties to ensure the immediate response of firefighting resources.

The proclamation allows for assistance from the Washington National Guard and directs the state Emergency Operations Center to coordinate all assistance to areas affected by wildfire.

-Colville tribal officials are encouraging limited use of forest roads because of high fire danger. They urge people not to park or drive in dry grass, make sure vehicles don’t have anything dragging on the road, keep tires inflated, carry a fire extinguisher and maintain vehicle brakes.


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