Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Norse Peak Fires Update. Sunday, August 27, 2017 – 9:00 a.m.
Hot dry conditions and the potential for more active fire behavior are building again after several days of calm weather. Forests remain extremely dry following 75 days without rain. Long-duration fires have preheated significant volumes of uphill fuels. For the next three days, heat, dryness and atmospheric instability creates opportunities for fire growth.
Fire fighters have been preparing for this weather, strengthening the containment lines that are currently confining the Norse Peak Fire (approximately 2,103 acres) west of Union Creek, north of Hwy 410, and east of Survey Creek. The Union Creek Fire (also known as Fire 366, approximately 169 acres) has been held north of Union Creek. Contingency firelines have been constructed along Road 462 to Bear Gap on the west and along a ridge below Fife’s peak, to the east.
The American Fire (approximately 207 acres) has been creeping north, downhill toward the American River. Hoses are primed to hold it above the 999 trail. The fire is expected to reach this barrier Tuesday.
Guided in by strategic observers on the ground, helicopters have been releasing buckets of water to quiet fire behavior when it threatens to spread or spot.
Resources: One Type 1 crew; 9 Type 2 crews; 18 engines; 2 dozers; 2 water tenders, 4 falling groups; 11 pieces of heavy equipment; 2 chippers; 2 helicopters.
Saturday Accomplishments: Crews are removing brush and branches along the Bumping River Road from Goose Prairie towards the Bumping Lake Dam. This work increases the break in fuels south of the current fires and improves firefighter access. Smoke jumpers completed their suppression tasks on the small Kettle Fires (Fire 351, less than 5 acres) burning near the top of American Ridge and will be demobilized today, making them available for other assignments. Helicopters cooled the places where the Union Creek and Norse Peak Fires threatened to push across natural barriers and current containment lines. Crews continued to strengthen contingency lines and hold the Norse Peak Fire west of Survey Creek. Others are working to remove felled snags and to chip woody debris from about 7 miles of fire containment line along the Hwy 410 corridor. This intense clean up involves heavy equipment that is working without interruption, with the goal of reopening the Highway to daytime traffic sometime this week. A night shift of five engines patrols Hwy 410 to ensure safe passage.
Hwy 410: The nighttime opening of Hwy 410 continues. Vehicles are able to move through the fire area from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Hwy 410 east of Chinook Pass (mile post 69) and west of Hell’s Crossing (mile post 84) remains closed during daytime. Check Dept of Transportation travel alerts at http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts/.
Weather Forecast: The temperatures will be higher today, in the upper 80’s where the fire is burning. The skies will be clear, with dry air (relative humidity dropping to about 16%), and atmospheric conditions that allow large fires to ventilate. Although winds will generally be light, afternoon gusts will reach 10-13 mph and burning trees will have the potential to loft embers and sparks into new areas. Temperatures and dryness will continue to increase tomorrow and not substantially decline until Thursday.
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 National Forest around the fires, including many trails, is closed. Other recreational facilities including campgrounds and businesses at Goose Prairie and Bumping Lake, under Level 1 Notification, remain open.
Please be cautious to prevent new fires. Initial attack of new fires is the highest priority local mission. If new fires start, they can divert our helicopters and crews away from the Norse Peak Fires. There is no lightning forecast for the next few days, and the majority of wildfires in Washington are accidentally ignited by people. Fire danger is VERY HIGH. Campfires are currently forbidden on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Don’t park your cars in dry grass or allow chains from trailers to drag and spark along roadways.