keller column

The Chuweah Creek Fire as seen from Keller.

NESPELEM – The Chuweah Creek Fire more than doubled in size, to 32,290 acres, from yesterday to today, July 15.

Containment was at 20 percent as of this morning.

The lightning-caused fire, one of five on the reservation, was listed at 15,000 acres as of yesterday morning.

During the day July 14, the fire spread east and northeast, aided by wind, fuels and terrain, said Northwest Incident Management Team 12, which is coordinating the fire fight.

The blaze crossed Cache Creek Road east of Shiloh Road. A bulldozer line was constructed and firefighters worked through the night to protect homes.

Structure protection also is in place on the south edge of the fire in the Buffalo and McGinnis lakes areas. The fire burned eastward to Keller Butte Road and has crossed the road in several places.

The management team said the fire is expected to grow today since high temperatures, low relative humidity and gusty winds are predicted today.

More firefighting resources have been ordered. About 200 people are assigned to the fire already, along with 14 engines, four bulldozers, three water tenders, one helicopter and one airplane.

Fire managers expect to use air resources today, so people are asked to avoid waterways and air space in the fire area. Drones should not be operated near the fire, officials said.

Level 2 (be ready) evacuation notices are in effect for residents of Owhi Flats along Cache Creek Road and people who live in the Buffalo Lake and McGinnis Lake communities. A Level 1 (be aware) evacuation alert is in place for Nespelem residents.

Road closures include Cache Creek Road, Buffalo Lake Road between Manila and Cache Creek roads, Cache Creek Cutoff Road and Joe Moses Road.

Other fires include Keno, northeast of Keller; Wells/Gold Mountain, Inchelium; Summit Trail, Inchelium, and Joe Moses, now part of Chuweah Creek.

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