UPDATE: OMAK – Several structures have been lost to the Cold Springs Fire, which had burned across an estimated 140,000 acres by Tuesday morning, Sept. 8.
Multiple structures have been lost and Level 3 evacuation notifications and road closures remain in place, said the Washington State Patrol. Locations and types of structures lost have not been released.
Level 3 evacuation notifications are in place for the southwest Colville Indian Reservation, Bridgeport, Bridgeport Bar, Mansfield, rural Douglas County and the upper Moses Coulee/Rimrock areas south of Jameson Lake.
Containment is at zero percent.
Highway 97 between Brewster and Omak remains closed.
The Okanogan County Fairgrounds has been added to the list of places evacuated livestock may be taken. RV campers also may set up there.
Around 200 people are assigned to the fire. Northeast Washington Interagency Type 3 Incident Management Team 2 has assumed command of the incident. A fire camp is set up in East Side Park, Omak.
The Douglas County portion of the blaze has been renamed as the Pearl Hill Fire.
ORIGINAL STORY: OKANOGAN – Two fires raced across the western portion of the Colville Indian Reservation on Sunday night and Monday, prompting widespread evacuations from Omak to Mansfield.
The Pearl Hill/Cold Springs Fire burned southward on the Colville Indian Reservation and across the Columbia River into Douglas County, while a separate fire burned just outside Omak and Okanogan.
Level 3 (get out now) evacuation notices were issued overnight Sept. 6-7 for the southwest portion of the reservation. Some areas of northern Douglas County, including the Town of Mansfield, received similar notices Monday morning after the fire jumped the Columbia River.
As of The Chronicle’s deadline late Monday afternoon, there were no reports of structures lost or injuries.
Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley credited firefighters with extraordinary efforts in saving multiple buildings.
Electricity, cell service, land lines and Internet were knocked out Monday afternoon.
The Pearl Hill/Cold Springs Fire erupted about 9:50 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6, west of Omak Lake. The Omak-Okanogan blaze started Monday morning.
Both were fanned by north winds that gusted as high as 46 mph, as recorded just before 11 a.m. Monday at the Omak Municipal Airport, and sustained winds were as high was 32 mph.
State fire mobilization was authorized for the Pearl Hill/Cold Springs Fire at 6:45 a.m. Monday at the request of Okanogan County Fire District No. 8 Chief Ed Townsend.
Cause of the fire is under investigation, said Hawley.
Both fires burned in timber, brush and grass, but also threatened homes, crops and power lines.
A Type 2 management team, five strike teams and air resources were ordered initially for the Pearl Hill/Cold Springs Fire, according to the state Emergency Operations Center at Camp Murray.
Crews from Fire District No. 8 and nearby districts continued to battle the Pearl Hill/Cold Springs Fire on the reservation into Monday afternoon. Several roads in the area were closed, and the reservation itself has been closed to non-residents since March as a COVID-19 precaution.
The fire jumped the Columbia River and continued burning in Douglas County. That county’s officials issued Level 3 evacuation notices to residence and ranches in the Hayes Road area and east of Road H Northeast toward Highway 17. By 10 a.m., the Level 3 area was expanded to east of Road K Northeast up to Strahl Canyon/Barker Canyon Road and a bit later to include Mansfield.
“All routes in and out of town are currently unsafe for use due to extreme visibility conditions,” said the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
People were asked to shelter in place if possible or go to the Mansfield School gym.
On Monday afternoon, the fire made runs to the west, threatening structures along Highway 97 south of Okanogan. There was an unconfirmed report of one structure on fire on Simons Road between Okanogan and Malott.
About 2:20 p.m., the fire crossed Highway 97 at Soap Lake Road. The highway was closed.
To the south, Level 3 evacuation notices were issued for Bridgeport and Bridgeport Bar, and the Moses Coulee/Rimrock Meadows area south of Jameson Lake.
The Omak-Okanogan blaze apparently began when a fire smoldering in a chip pile, a remnant of the now-closed Omak sawmill, rekindled. The blaze that got into the chip pile was in late July.
Fire crews from Omak, Okanogan and Malott in Fire District No. 3 were called, along with fire district Nos. 4 (Tonasket), 7 (Riverside), 12 (Mount Hull) and Douglas-Okanogan Fire District No. 15. The Colville Confederated Tribes’ 12 Tribes Resort Casino was threatened, as were homes in the area.
The casino and its RV park were evacuated.
A couple Malott trucks were pulled off the fire just before 11 a.m. to respond to a fire in Little Loup Loup Canyon southwest of Okanogan. Hawley said that fire was in an irrigation pump and the owner took care of it.
Road closures included Columbia River Road at Highway 155, Cameron Lake Road at Highway 97 and Snider Flat Cutoff Road, Delfeld Road at the Jack Wells Road intersection, North End Omak Lake Road at Highway 155.
In Douglas County, the state Department of Transportation closed Highway 17 from milepost 112, the junction with Highway 2, to milepost 136, the junction with Highway 173 in Bridgeport. Highway 172 (Road 14 Northeast) was closed from milepost zero at the junction with Highway 2 to milepost 35 at Mansfield, the junction with Highway 17. Highway 2 was closed from milepost 163, about 13 miles east of Waterville, to milepost 187.5 at the junction with Highway 17.
Evacuated livestock can be sheltered at the North Central Washington Fairgrounds in Waterville and the Omak Stampede Arena. Information about the arena is available from Stampede President Leon Hoover, 509-429-7263.
The Brewster RV Park was opened free to evacuees. People needing shelter can contact the American Red Cross, 509-670-5331.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office said some of that county’s residents received an evacuation notice, but it was a carryover from Douglas County’s notification and not for Grant County.
Elsewhere in the region, fires were burning on Apple Acres Road north of Chelan and just outside Colfax. High winds across eastern Washington sent dust flying and contributed to multiple vehicle accidents. Several highways, including Interstate 90 and Highway 395, were closed.
Other fires reported in the past couple days include:
-West B&O Road – 1.33 acres, Sept. 7.
-Kifer Road, Ferry County – Two acres, Sept. 7.
-Lambert Spot, Ferry County – 0.02 acre, Lambert Creek, Sept. 5.