Cougar Creek, Lost, Bannock Lakes, and Whitepine Fires Friday, August 10, 2018 A Red Flag Warning forecasts shifting winds with gusts to 40 miles per hour Friday evening into Saturday. Windy conditions could cause fires to grow and spread rapidly despite fireline construction already completed. The forecast predicts an afternoon shift to strong northwest winds, which could align with ridges to push the fires to the southeast. Firefighters have used burnout tactics to help check the advance of flames in that direction. However dry vegetation, high temperatures, and low humidity mean airborne embers could ignite spot fires as much as a mile ahead of the main fire. The forecast also notes a possibility of thunderstorms without rain that could spark new fires in tinder-dry forests.
Cougar Creek Fire: Very high temperatures and low humidity Thursday led to moderate fire activity on all but the north side of the fire. The fire remained active overnight, as temperatures stayed above 80 degrees with humidity levels around 30 percent. Firefighters conducted more burnout operations to create a buffer along the eastern side of the fire along Tyee Ridge in preparation for today’s expected winds.
Firefighters from around the nation are facing soaring temperatures, rugged terrain, and gusting winds as they work to halt the 12,428 acre Cougar Creek Fire 20 miles northwest of Entiat, Washington. Most firefighting efforts today will focus on strengthening recently constructed firelines ahead of the wind event. Aircraft support will be available.
A total of 902 personnel, including 22 crews, 6 aircraft, 28 engines, and 12 bulldozers are being shared between the Cougar Creek and Lost Fires.
Lost Fire: The Lost Fire is now about 114 acres after minimal growth Wednesday. A second Type 2 initial attack crew joined the 80 firefighters already involved in aggressive direct attack on this fire. With support from water drops, crews made more progress Thursday, finishing handline construction around the entire fire perimeter in the steep, rocky terrain. Today, firefighters will reinforce and strengthen the line prior to it being tested by strong northwest winds this afternoon.
Bannock Lakes Fire: This lightning-caused fire is approximately 17 miles west of Stehekin in the Glacier Peaks Wilderness. A reconnaissance flight Wednesday found the fire to be about 200 acres. It is burning among large rocky outcroppings and isolated clusters of timber in steep, inaccessible terrain. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) is closed from Suiattle Pass to High Bridge. The PCT detour is from Suiattle Pass to Stehekin. More information and a map is available at www.pcta.org. Aerial observers continue to monitor the fire.
Whitepine Fire: The Whitepine Fire, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, is approximately 3 miles south of Stevens Pass Nordic Center and 19 miles northwest of Leavenworth. This lightning-caused fire remains small and is being regularly monitored from the air.
Weather and Fire Behavior: Winds, high temperatures, and dry vegetation may lead to active fire behavior today. Numerous downed trees and standing snags from the 1994 Tyee Fire are fueling the fire’s spread. Firefighters have extinguished numerous spot fires caused by embers blowing across control lines. There also is a small possibility of some thunderstorm activity in the afternoon and evening, which could ignite new fires in the area. Such storms also have the potential for producing high winds. A Red Flag Warning for hot, dry, windy conditions is in effect again today from noon to 11 p.m. Temperatures could top 100 degrees in the valley and reach the mid 80s on ridgetops. This morning’s moderate southeast winds are expected to increase and shift to the northwest this afternoon. Gusts up to 40 miles per hour are expected.
Evacuations: New evacuation levels effective yesterday at 7:00 pm are as follows: - Entiat River Road from Mad River Road to the end of Entiat River Road (approximately mp 25) is now at a Level 3. - Mad River Road, including Ardenvoir, is now a Level 2. - Entiat River Road from Crum Canyon to Mad River Road intersection, on both sides of the road is now at a Level 1. - Both sides of Crum Canyon Road are now at a Level 1.
Level 3 means "Leave Now." Level 2 means residents need to be ready to evacuate. For specific questions regarding evacuations please call the Chelan County Emergency Management at 509-667-6863 or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CCSOEM. With the Level 3 evacuation again in place, the Red Cross will continue to provide services to those affected. Red Cross can be contacted at 509-663-3907 for evacuation shelter information.
Smoke: Smoke from the Cougar Creek and Lost Fires continues to be visible from surrounding communities. Individuals with respiratory problems are encouraged to acquire N95 masks. These masks are available at local fire stations, provided by the Chelan County Sheriff's Office. For more information on smoke and public health, go to www.wasmoke.blogspot.com or https://bit.ly/2J22754 (Spanish).
Incident Management Team: California Interagency Incident Management Team 5 is managing the fire out of the Incident Command Post located at the Entiat School. The team is working closely with cooperators from the US Forest Service, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Entiat Rural Fire District 8, Peshastin Rural District 6, Lake Wenatchee Fire & Rescue, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, and Chelan County Department of Emergency Management.