Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Norse Peak Fires Update. Aug. 26, 2017 9 a.m.
368 personnel (1 Type 1 crew, 8 Type 2 crews, 18 engines, 4 felling teams, 2 dozers, 2 water tenders, heavy equipment, and 2 helicopters) are assigned to these fires in the Naches Ranger District.
Friday’s accomplishments: On Friday morning, eight aerially delivered firefighters – commonly called “smokejumpers” – began work to secure the small lightning-caused fires north of American Ridge. They reported that one of the fires was smoldering at 0.8 acres, and they completed fireline around it. The other fire, is less than 5 acres. The smokejumpers started constructing fireline around it, with the support of water drops from helicopters. Securing this fire is a priority to reduce risk to the Bumping River drainage. The smokejumpers have food and gear with them to work on site through Monday if needed.
An overnight infrared flight mapped the American Fire at 207 acres, and shows only 6 acres of fire growth to the north, toward the Highway 410 corridor. The fire edge is now half a mile from the American River, after slowly backing downhill approximately 1000 feet in the last 7 days.
On the Norse Peak Fire (2,103 acres), ground crews used helicopter water drops to support their work on both the east and west sides of the fire. Once again, their strategic use of water kept the fire northeast of Union Creek, and west of Survey Creek. Their continued success in complicated terrain is due to both their effective work and the moderate weather of the past few days.
The Union Creek Fire (169 acres) and Fire #367 (now 57 acres, near Sheepherder Lake) were monitored from the air; and only grew 9 and 3 acres. These remote wilderness fires are in locations where natural fire progression is limited by rocky areas with sparse vegetation.
Today: More equipment has been added to speed the clearing of woody debris from the Highway 410 corridor. Making the highway safely passable again is a priority of fire managers. While daylight work in the roadway creates a significant safety hazard, the road is open at night from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am when equipment is not actively working. By opening only at night, the work should be completed sooner than if vehicles were allowed through the work site intermittently all day. Five engines will work through the night to patrol the fire area. Anyone who drives through the fire area is asked to focus on driving safely and follow the posted speed limit.
In the Bumping Lake recreation corridor, fire crews are tasked with clearing vegetation along the roadway, as a contingency line. Improving the safety of the access to the Bumping Lake recreation area was one of the projects previously identified in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) developed by a coalition of landowners, land management organizations, and fire response agencies. Ten years have passed since the initial investment in a safer access corridor, and in that time the trees and brush have grown significantly. The updated 2015 CWPP for all of Yakima County is available at http://file.dnr.wa.gov/publications/rp_burn_cwpp_yakima_county.pdf.
Weather and Fire Behavior Forecast: Warming and drying will continue for the next several days, and only light winds are predicted. After over two months without rain in the region, the very dry vegetation can easily catch fire when exposed to any ember or spark.
Hwy 410: The 15-mile stretch of highway in the fire area is open from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Maximum speed is 45 mph. Drivers should be cautious for potential fire activity, firefighters, equipment and debris along the road. This section of highway remains closed during the daytime (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.) to allow firefighters to work safely along the roadway where trees have been felled and debris will be chipped. This closure is being evaluated daily and will last at least through Monday. Check Department of Transportation travel alerts at http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts/.
All Closures, Restrictions and Evacuations remain in effect: For more details and maps visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5509/. Recreational cabins at Union Creek and Pleasant Valley, and the Lodgepole and Pleasant Valley campgrounds remain closed under Level 3 Evacuation Notification. A broad area of the National Forest around the fire area, including many trails, is closed. Other recreational facilities including campgrounds and businesses at Goose Prairie and Bumping Lake, under Level 1 Notification, remain open.
Fire danger remains VERY HIGH. No campfires are allowed in the Naches Ranger District.