Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Infrared data from a flight last night confirmed stark contrast in fire behavior and expansion between south and north sections of the Norse Peak Fires.
The American Fire (301 acres), burning on the south side of Hwy 410, has not spread significantly in the last two days. It continues backing slowly downhill, north toward the hose lines installed above the American River. It did not move south toward the Bumping River Road, Bumping Lake Marina, Camp Fife or Goose Prairie, where businesses are open and campers are enjoying hot dry weather.
In contrast, well north of Hwy 410 in the Norse Peak Wilderness, there has been extreme fire behavior and significant fire spread. The Norse Peak Fire, Union Creek Fire, and Fire 367 (now 12,904 acres) have grown together and expanded through much of the north side of Gold Hill, Union Creek, the North Fork of Union Creek, Crow Creek, and Falls Creek. Fire crossed the Pacific Crest Trail west of Crow Lake. Flames hundreds of feet high were observed from Raven’s Roost on Tuesday evening and, in one afternoon, a 5-acre spot fire northeast of the main fire grew to approximately 700 acres. The Norse Peak Fire did not spread towards Hwy 410 beyond the established anchor points at Union Creek and Survey Creek.
Fire managers and the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest were anticipating this potential and responded deliberately. The Pacific Crest Trail has been closed from White Pass to Government Meadow. Road 1902 to Raven’s Roost is closed. Additional road, trail and area closures are being assessed and developed in order to identify places that are at risk and those that remain available for safe travel and weekend recreation.
Weather and anticipated fire behavior: The weather will be much milder for two days, with temperatures down 10-12 degrees and relative humidity up 10-30% in the fire area. Although western winds will strengthen throughout today, the fire behavior is anticipated to decrease. In some upper basins, even those sheltered from wind, there is still significant energy. The Norse Peak Fire will continue to consume dry fuels, producing abundant smoke, but less anticipated growth or spread.
Resources: 9 Type 2 crews; 16 engines; 2 dozers; 2 water tenders; 6 falling groups; 17 pieces of heavy equipment; 2 chippers; 2 helicopters.
Planned work: Crews continue removing brush and branches to improve a contingency fuel break along the Bumping River Road from Goose Prairie towards the Bumping Lake Dam. Helicopters will drop buckets of water if needed to cool places where the Norse Peak Fire threatens to push across natural barriers and current containment lines. Firefighters are sizing up new places to develop additional anchor points along Hwy 410 and a more extensive road system to the north of containment lines for holding this larger fire area. A night shift of five engines patrol Hwy 410 to ensure safe passage, with the road open for public travel from 8 pm to 6 am.
The work to remove the hazard trees and wood debris from the Hwy 410 corridor is progressing steadily. The system of daytime closure to allow firefighters to work across both lanes, and nighttime opening for traffic, remains unchanged through at least through Thursday. 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 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 extremely cautious to prevent new fires. Fire danger remains VERY HIGH and the majority of wildfires in Washington are accidentally ignited by people. The Horseshoe Bend Fire, a brush fire that started yesterday afternoon along Hwy 410 west of Naches, required assistance from Norse Peak engines and helicopters. It was contained at less than 75 acres, but caused a persistent power outage in the Nile valley.