Crews battle fires near Leavenworth, Cle Elum, Conrad Lake
Day by day, firefighters are making progress on wildfires across the Northwest, but continued lightning strikes are starting new fires in some areas and pose the threat of new fires in others.
Times staff and news services
Fire crews are keeping a close eye on the weather, with much of Eastern Washington under a red-flag warning for extreme wildfire danger.
The National Weather Service said a low-pressure system off the coast of California has been pushing northeast, raising the potential for thunderstorms in the region through Friday.
Near Leavenworth, the Eagle fire had burned across nearly 2 square miles by Thursday night. Fire-management spokeswoman Robin DeMario said about 30 homes remained under mandatory evacuation notices. The Wenatchee World newspaper reported no homes had been lost so far. The firefighting effort has cost $1 million.
The fire was 10 percent contained, and 600 firefighters were battling the flames.
Ground crews and strike teams from the Forest Service, state Department of Natural Resources and dozens of fire districts around the state were helping.
“They’ve come from all over to lend a hand,” said spokesman Rick Isaacson of Chelan County Fire District 1. “It’s amazing how many stations have sent personnel, and how many firefighters have said they’re on the way.”
About 70 firefighters were working the Manastash Ridge fire south of Cle Elum, which had grown to more than a square mile by Thursday evening. No structures were threatened.
Thursday night, the Conrad Lake fire on White Pass in Yakima County had remained at 980 acres for two days. Firefighters have surrounded the fire and were watching it closely as it slowly burned toward the fire line, said spokesman Seth Barnes.
“It’s under control but it’s not contained yet,” he said. It was still estimated as 22 percent contained Thursday night.
He added that more lightning strikes Thursday had created additional flare-ups in the area and more lightning was expected overnight, but neither the smaller fires nor the Conrad Lake fire was threatening homes or other structures.
Efforts to combat Conrad Lake and Manastash will combine this weekend, Barnes said.
In Oregon, the Government Flat Complex of fires ranked among the nation’s worst, according to The Associated Press.
The Blackburn fire, part of the Government Flats complex burning 10 miles southwest of The Dalles, remained at 15 percent containment after growing to 17 square miles and burning a fourth house on Wednesday.
So far the firefighting effort there has cost $4.6 million.
The Oregon Department of Forestry said residents of an unknown number of homes along Ketchum Road and Vensel Road were given the word to leave shortly after noon on Thursday. About 275 homes have been issued notices to prepare for evacuation.
Forestry spokesman David Morman said Thursday night that winds that had been projected to pick up in the afternoon remained relatively tame, allowing crews to strengthen their positions. However, stronger winds are expected Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, thunderstorms moved into southwestern Oregon on Thursday morning, bringing heavy rain and lightning. Five new fires were reported from dry lighting on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, with the biggest about 20 acres.
More lightning was forecast through Friday, said forest spokeswoman Virginia Gibbons.
Nine large fires were burning uncontained across 288 square miles in Oregon, from the Big Sheep 2 fire outside Joseph in the northeastern corner, to the Labrador fire outside Selma in the southwest. There were 4,500 firefighters fighting the fires.
In Idaho, the Beaver Creek fire outside Sun Valley was 47 percent contained. It covered 172 square miles and has cost $16.6 million.
Information from The Associated Press, The Wenatchee World and Times reporter Colin Campbell was included in this report.