OKANOGAN All of Okanogan County is under a general wildfire evacuation alert this morning as wildfires continue to burn throughout the area.
The warning covering the entire county was issued because “thin resources” will prevent in-person notifications for most areas should fire activity increase rapidly.
This morning, fires continue burning in Tunk and Chewiliken valleys near Riverside, along Ninemile Road outside Oroville, on two sides of Conconully, in multiple places around the Methow Valley, between Nespelem and Aeneas Valley, and around Brewster, Bridgeport and Pateros.
In response, the county has opened the Emergency Operations Center in Okanogan.
Residents and visitors alike should call 509-422-7348 for up-to-date fire information, county Emergency Manager Maurice Goodall said this morning.
“We’re trying to steer people away from dispatch,” he said.
Cooler temperatures overnight slowed fire progression throughout the region, and fire officials hope that trend will continue today.
Goodall said Okanogan County is most concerned about the North Star Fire burning north of Nespelem.
“We’re really going to be watching it,” he said. “It’s pushing north. It’s spotted out onto Dugout Mountain and east of Devils Canyon and North of Devil Lake.
“It’s probably going to be a major hit if the winds pick up,” he said.
As of 10 a.m., major road closures included U.S. Highway 97 between Pateros and Chelan, and Black Canyon and South Fork Gold Creek roads in the Methow Valley.
Temporary closures were in effect in multiple locations yesterday, including Chewiliken Valley, Tunk Valley, Ninemile Road, Chesaw Road and others. Since fire is still active in those areas, closures could occur again should flames flare up or smoke limit driving visibility.
To assist fire victims in Okanogan County, emergency shelters have been set up in Tonasket and Brewster. There are also shelters in Entiat for Chelan County fire victims and East Wenatchee for Douglas County fire victims.
North Valley Hospital is staffing the Tonasket shelter.
As of 11 a.m., the highway between Pateros and Chelan remains closed in both directions. Motorists needing to enter or depart the Okanogan Valley are advised to use the Coulee Corridor between Grand Coulee and Soap Lake, or North Cascades Highway, linking the Methow Valley to the Sedro Woolley area.
An animal rescue shelter is being planned for the Okanogan County Fairgrounds for fire victims who have pets and horses.
That shelter has yet to be set up.
Goodall said residents can keep up-to-date on emergency information in their neighborhoods by logging onto OkanoganDEM.org and signing up for fire alert notifications that can be sent via text message, email and telephone call.
“The whole county is on general evacuation and we do not have the resources to go door-to-door,” Goodall said. “Be aware of your surroundings.”