Fire blackens acreage north of Omak

Blazes continue to burn in Okanogan, Ferry counties




OMAK – Nearly 40 acres of grass and sagebrush burned Saturday, Aug. 18, north of town.

Several other fires continue to burn in the region.

Saturday’s blaze was reported at 1:18 p.m.at 30 Rosewood Lane, which is toward the northern end of Greenacres Road.

Fire District No. 7 (rural Riverside) was called first, but quickly called for reinforcements. Fire district Nos. 3 (Omak, Okanogan and Malott), 8 (southwest reservation) and 9 (rural Conconully), and the state Department of Natural Resources responded.

DNR also sent two helicopters from its base at the Omak Municipal Airport.

Omak Fire Chief Kevin Bowling said the blaze burned mostly south and was bounded roughly by Greenacres and Johnson Creek roads, and Duck and Proctor lakes to the south. No structures were damaged or destroyed, although one was threatened.

Bowling said because he could not see the southern end of the fire initially because of heavy smoke – both from the fire and in the air because of other wildfires – he called for evacuation notices to be delivered. The notifications ended up being largely advisory.

Firefighters were on the scene more than four hours.

The cause is suspected to be people target shooting on Rosewood Lane.

Two fires continue to burn in the Methow Valley.

The larger, Crescent Mountain, has burned across 23,764 acres of timbered land in the upper Twisp River drainage. The lightning-caused blaze started July 29.

As of Aug. 20, it was 34 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Level 3 evacuations remain in place for West Buttermilk Creek Road and Twisp River Road west of the Buttermilk Creek intersection. A Level 2 evacuation is in place for residents west of Little Bridge Creek Road.

The second, McLeod, had burned across 13,451 acres of land north of Mazama as of Monday and was 5 percent contained.

It began Aug. 11, also from a lightning strike.

Combined, the two fires had more than 460 firefighters and support personnel assigned to them.

Forest Service officials said firefighters are continuing to monitor the Crescent Fire and hold it along the Twisp River between Poplar Flat and Slate Lake. The blaze continues creeping down Snowshoe Ridge toward Eagle Creek.

Fire officials were hopeful clearing air and visibility would allow use of aircraft.

On the McLeod Fire, firefighters contained slop-over and small spot fires throughout the night of Sunday to Monday. Additional crews were to arrive Monday.

A smaller fire, Holman, was burning on Holman Peak in the Pasayten Wilderness. As of Monday, it had burned across 110 acres with no containment. The fire was reported Aug. 17; its cause has not been determined.

The lightning-caused Tillman Surprise Fire, approximately seven miles west of Loomis on Tillman Mountain, was discovered by aircraft Thursday, Aug. 16. As of Monday, it had burned across 45 acres.

A Northeast Washington Interagency Type 3 team has been assigned to the blaze, which is burning in heavy timber and dead and downed fuels. No structures are threatened.

Mop-up operations occurred on the weekend, with heavy equipment, fallers and firefighters working to strengthen containment lines. Hose was placed around the north side of the blaze.

A task force of firefighters is at Highlands Camp on Sinlahekin Road and poised for initial attack if needed. Wind was predicted Monday.

The Loomis State Forest, timber sales areas and lynx habitat are at risk. Containment was at 15 percent as of Monday.

The fire’s cause is under investigation.

No roads are closed, although people are asked to avoid Cecile Creek Road because of fire traffic.

In Ferry county, the Kettle River Fire, which started Aug. 11, has burned 49 acres northwest of Curlew in the Graphite Mountain Area. Fire blaze is two miles south of the Midway border crossing.

As of Monday, the lightning-caused fire was 75 percent contained. About 150 people were assigned to the fire, although that was expected to change as firefighters are reassigned to other fires, said the Northeast Washington Interagency Type 3 team handling the fire fight.

All evacuation notifications were lifted as of 8 a.m. Monday, said Ferry County Sheriff Ray Maycumber. No structures have been lost.

A command post is at Curlew School.

To the south, about 12 miles north of Republic, the Kelly Mountain Fire was in mop-up stage Monday, with 44 acres burned and containment at 55 percent.

No structures have been lost.

Fire officials said 178 people are assigned to the fire, which started Aug. 11 and was part of 11 lightning- and storm-related fires reported in the Republic, Curlew and Toroda area.

North Fork Trout Creek Road is closed at the Empire Sno-Park.

No structures have been lost.

On the east side of Ferry County, the Boyds Fire has burned across 3,249 acres and was 49 percent contained as of Monday.

It continues to burn in grass, brush and timber. The cause is under investigation.

Over the weekend, crews continued burn operations along the west side of the fire line and continued mopping up on the east side along Highway 20.

Highways 20 and 395 were closed late last week but have reopened.

On Monday, masticators, excavators, feller bunchers and other heavy equipment was used to strengthen containment lines, which were expected to be tested by dry, northeasterly winds.

Preparations also were under way for use of aerial ignition, in which a helicopter would drop plastic spheres filled with a flammable mixture that ignites when the hit the ground.

“This reduces fuel loads between the Boyds Fire and containment lines,” according to fire officials in the Inciweb site. “Using burnout and aerial ignitions will help protect the values at risk.”

Firefighters from 16 stages are working the Boyds Fire – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Montana, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, South Dakota, Minnesota, Florida, New Jersey, Wisconsin and New Mexico. State mobilization has been authorized.

Areas from Boulder Creek Road south to Sherman Homes Road remain at Level 2 evacuation level.

Bisbee Mountain and Trout Lake roads are closed at Highway 20. Nancy Creek Road is closed at the Colville National Forest boundary.

Meanwhile, several fires are burning just north of the international border in British Columbia.

The largest is K51238, which is burning in the Snowy Mountain Protective Area north of Nighthawk. It had burned across 13,359 hectares (about 33,10 acres) as of Monday, according to CC Wildfire Service.

On Sunday evening, increased wind led to greater fire activity on the ridgetops and within the Barrington Creek drainage. The blaze, which is burning in steep terrain, can be seen from Keremeos.

British Columbia officials are working with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the state Department of Natural Resources because of the fire’s proximity to the border.

Another blaze, K52431, is burning to the southeast, closer to the border in the Snehumption Creek area, and has burned across five hectares (about 12.35 acres).

Two others are burning to the west in the vicinity of Cathedral Provincial Park/Snowy Mountain Protected Area.



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