Fires continue to burn in Twisp River drainage

Flames devour trees along Twisp River Road.

U.S. Forest Service
Flames devour trees along Twisp River Road.

TWISP – The combined Crescent Mountain and Gilbert fires continue to grow, and some Twisp River area residents remain under a Level 2 evacuation notice because of the blazes, which are burning at the upper end of the drainage.

As of Monday morning, Aug. 6, the Crescent Mountain Fire had blackened 7,671 acres of timber and was zero percent contained, while the Gilbert Fire had burned across 38 acres.

The lightning-caused fires started July 28.

Level 2 evacuation notices were issued Wednesday evening, Aug. 1, for the Buttermilk Road-Twisp River Road area and remained in effect as of Monday.

The combined fire grew from 4,500 acres to 6,000 aces on Thursday and to more than 7,700 by Monday, according to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

“Fire activity was moderate (Sunday) with the Crescent fire continuing to be active near Williams Creek,” said the agency. “The Gilbert fire is exhibiting no fire activity with little smoke being produced.”

Firefighters continue widening existing roads, evaluating ingress and egress routes and preparing areas around homes and other structures in case the fire progresses. As of Monday, the fire edge was 4.9 miles from the closest structure in the Twisp River drainage.

The Inciweb incident information system website said the fire is burning in mixed conifer and subalpine fir timber.

Mike Dueitt’s Type 1 Southern Area Red Team from Arizona is in charge of the fire fight.

As of Aug. 6, there were 221 firefighters and support personnel assigned to the blaze.

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 from the intersection with Buttermilk Road 43 to the end at Twisp River Horse Camp.

All trailheads and trails originating from those roads are closed; travel on Thompson Ridge and Little Bridge Creek roads is not advised, the Forest Service said.

Officials expect the fires to continue generating heavy smoke, as are other fires in the area.

Officials had a community information meeting Aug. 2 at the Methow Valley Community Center, Twisp, to update people on the Gilbert Fire. Representatives of Okanogan County Emergency Management, U.S. Forest Service, Fire District No. 6 and the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office presented information and answered questions about the fire.

Another lightning-caused 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.

All trail and road closures have been lifted. The blaze was reported July 28.

In other fire activity:

-State fire mobilization was authorized Aug. 3 for the Angel Springs Fire, which is burning near Davenport in Lincoln County. The blaze – at 4,500 acres as of Monday - is burning in timber, brush and tall grass, and is threatening homes, crops and infrastructure.

It was 15 percent contained as of Monday. Level 2 and Level 3 evacuation orders have been issued.

Level 2 and Level 3 evacuation notices have been issued. The blaze started Aug. 2; its cause is under investigation.

-According to Inciweb, the Cougar Creek Fire near Lake Chelan has burned across more than 4,150 acres as of Monday. Other fires in the state, as of Monday, included the Sheep Creek Fire near Northport, 435 acres; Miriam Fire, southeast of Mount Rainier, 1,106 acres; Milepost 90 fire, near Wishram, 14,500 acres.

-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.

The Oregon National Guard has been activated to help battle fires there.

-DNR has banned 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.

-The agency also changed fire danger ratings and industrial fire precaution levels on Monday, Aug. 6. Fire danger will increase to “very high” in Lincoln County and “high” in Pend Oreille County, and the fire precaution level will go to Level 3 in zones 684 and 696 and Level 2 in zones 678E, 685 and 687.

Fire danger continues at “very high” in Okanogan County and “high” in Ferry, Spokane and Stevens counties.

-On Saturday, DNR issued a temporary ban on all target shooting on land it manages. The ban does not restrict hunting, since firearms are discharged less frequently when hunting than when target shooting.

In target shooting, bullets can pass through decayed wood, cause sparks off rocks or break into fragments in high grass.

-Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide emergency July 31 for all 39 counties in Washington 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 to lessen the chance of sparks or heat setting off fires.

-More than 8,000 firefighters and support personnel were battling Pacific Northwest wildfires in the Pacific Northwest as of Friday, with 16 large wildfires burning in Oregon and six in Washington. About, 85 firefighters and support personnel from Australia and New Zealand were expected to arrive in the Northwest this week to support suppression efforts.

In addition, two Canadian Convair 580 air tankers and a lead plane from Saskatchewan are assigned to support the Pacific Northwest fire fight.

-Large fires are burning throughout the West, including the Northwest, northern Rockies, northern and southern California and Great Basin. As of Friday, approximately 140 uncontained wildfires were burning on more than 1.4 million acres of land in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Alaska, said the Northwest Coordination Center.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment