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Sawmill Creek Fire

Unit Information

South Puget Sound Region-Department of Natural Resources

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Sawmill Creek Overview

The Sawmill Creek Fire started September 4, 2017 and the cause is still under investigation. Local and state resources responded quickly to the fire but were hampered by steep rocky terrain, smoky conditions, and limited road access.

Geographically the Sawmill Creek fire is north of a larger fire in the area, the Norse Peak fire. The Norse Peak fire had been established in the Wenatchee National Forest starting August 11. Initial air and ground operations were hampered the first 48 hours of the fire due to heavy smoke from both incidents. Responding agencies took a defensive stance for the first couple of days for firefighter safety due to the smoke, terrain difficulties, and fire activity.

September 6, 2017 the Type 3 South East Washington Interagency Team 1 assumed command of the Sawmill Creek Fire. The evening of the 6th a public meeting was held at Greenwater FD to discuss evacuations and closures with the Greenwater, Alta Vista, and Crystal Mountain Resort communities.

September 9, 2017 the Type 2 So Cal Team 3 assumed command of the Sawmill Creek Fire. The operational strategy remained the same; providing for firefighter and public safety followed by protecting natural resources and infrastructure.

September 11, 2017 So Cal Team 3 took over management of the North Zone of the Norse Peak fire. The Norse Peak was divided into a North and South Zone by the Pacific Coast Trail. Doing this allowed for resources to mobilize each day from the Enumclaw Incident Command Post, which was closer to their assigned divisions along the North/Western flank of the Norse Peak fire.

Fire behavior was moderate through the second week of September with sunny skies and daily humidity levels dropping down to the 20% range. Sunday, September 17th saw a big change in the weather brining cooler temps, higher humidity and moderate to heavy rain at times. At this point it was decided to bring all three fires in the area under one command.

September 17, 2017 at 6 p.m. the Type 1 Pacific North West Team 3 assumed command of the South Branch of the Norse Peak Fire. The following day, September 18, 2017 at 6 a.m., they assumed command of the Sawmill Creek fire and the North Branch of the Norse Peak fire.

September 20, 2017 all planned operations were complete and the fire was placed in monitor status.

September 23, 2017 the Sawmill Creek fire transitioned back to the local Washington Department of Natural Resources, South Puget Sound Region.

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
CauseCause Is Under Investigation
Date of OriginMonday September 04th, 2017 approx. 07:30 PM
LocationWest of the Norse Peak wilderness and south of the Tacoma watershed.
Incident CommanderWashington Department of Natural Resources, South Puget Sound Region
Incident DescriptionFull Suppression
Coordinates47.163 latitude, -121.436 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel176
Size1,061 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained99%
Fuels Involved

Timber (Litter and Understory).

Main influence has been fuel and topography dominated. Fuels consist of grass, brush, and timber litter.

Significant Events

Minimal, Creeping, Smoldering.

Generally, creeping and smoldering. Some slow surface spread in heavy fuels under heavy canopy.


Planned Actions

Monitor Sawmill fire and prepare to implement fire suppression repair per DNR and Forest direction.

Projected Incident Activity

Cold and wet weather pattern is expected to reduce fire activity to creeping, smoldering. This will further reduce fire spread.


Fire will transition back to local unit at 0600 on 9/23/2017.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Clearing skies gave way to a few clouds this afternoon today with Isolated showers in the region, but wetting rains is unlikely. Temperatures warmed into the 40s for the upper elevations of the fire area, with mainly 50s in the lower elevations. After excellent overnight relative humidity recovery, values stayed

high with most locations staying above 50%. The wind was light and terrain driven except on ridge tops where gusts to 15 mph were possible. Temperatures warm slightly tomorrow with highs in the 40s and 50s. The relative humidity will be above 45% with excellent recovery once again. Skies should be clear to partly

cloudy with northwest winds on ridge tops of 10-15 mph.