Swakane Canyon Wildfire Slowed - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Swakane Canyon Wildfire Slowed; Over 20,000 Acres

WENATCHEE, Wash. - There was no growth in the perimeter of the Swakane Wildfire Thursday  with containment at 60%.

Along fire lines in the Highway 97A corridor, infrared detection of hot spots was conducted north of Swakane Canyon.  The mop- up standards are: no hot spots within 500 feet of structures, 100 feet of fire lines in grass, and 300 feet of fire lines in timber.  Infrared detection will continue along the Highway 97A corridor as well as the Burch Mountain Road fire line.

Fire operations are now concentrated in the north and northwest portions of the fire.  In some areas, the active fire front is some distance from constructed fire lines due to topography.  Today's operations seek to fortify lines, using burn-out techniques when possible.

Although much of the timber is still too moist to burn actively and is a natural barrier to fire progression, these fuels have been drying and are contributing to active fire behavior when the wind direction and uphill topography align.  Burnout operations are challenging in these areas.

Tomorrow is expected to be warmer and drier.

Homes, structures and utility lines continue to be threatened by this wildfire.  Evacuation Advisories of Level I and II  remain in place and have not changed.

Road closures remain in place and are unchanged.  The distance of reduced speed along Hwy 97A has been shortened, to focus on the mouth of Swakane Canyon.

Previous Coverage:

WENATCHEE, Wash. - Authorities are saying the Swakane fire has grown to over 20,000 acres. Despite extremely strong winds and dry air Monday, the containment lines surrounding the Swakane wildfire have remained intact. There were strong winds Tuesday on the fire, but they were less than half of Monday's intensity. There was no growth in fire perimeter. Much of the flames and smoke visible from the fire today were from burn out operations on the north and northwest flanks.

Tuesday's weather was more moderate than Monday's, allowing the use of helicopters to support burn out operations. Wednesday's forecast is calling for light winds, which should allow continued use of helicopters. This should provide an opportunity for effective line fortification using air- and ground-based crews and equipment.

Dry grass and brush are the most flammable fuels associated with this fire. Although much of the timber is still too moist to burn actively and is a natural barrier to progression of the fire, these fuels have been drying and are contributing to active fire behavior when the wind direction and uphill topography align.

Homes, structures and utility lines continue to be threatened by this wildfire. Evacuation Advisories of Level I and II  remain in place and have not changed.

The fire has directly affected nine miles along Highway 97A with congestion, fire activity and fire personnel present near the roadway. The speed limit has been reduced to 45 mph in some places. 

Drivers are requested to avoid stopping along Hwy 97A and consider using Hwy 97 on the east side of the Columbia River if possible. This fire can be easily viewed from safe sites across the river.

New road closures are in place north of the fire area in the Mills Canyon area.

WIIMT 4 is managing the incident under a joint Delegation of Authority from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Southeast Region, the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management, and Chelan County Fire Districts 1 and 8, with assistance from other State, Federal and local agencies.

Previous Coverage:

WENATCHEE, Wash. - As of 9pm Monday night, authorities tell KHQ that the Swakane fire has grown to over 12,000 acres and is about 30% contained. About nine miles along Highway 97A make up the east flank of the fire. The highway was closed earlier in the day because of rocks falling onto the road. Crews were able to clear the road and open up one lane about an hour later.

Fire crews reported wind gusts of over 40 mph during the day, which halted all air operations. Mark Grassel of the Washington Interagency Incident Management Team, reported that despite the red flag weather and lack of air operations, crews made considerable progress during the day.

As of Monday night, no homes have been destroyed and no new evacuations have been ordered. Over 400 firefighters are battling the fire, including departments from Chelan providing structure protection.

Previous Coverage:

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) - A wildfire about 10 miles north of Wenatchee continued to burn through dry grass Monday morning with the forecast of gusty winds.

A spokesman with the Washington Incident Management Team, Mark Grassel, said firefighters are concerned about the Weather Service's Red Flag Warning for winds of 15 TO 20 mph and gusts to
45.

More than 300 firefighters are at the scene of the Swakane Canyon fire that was reported Saturday and has burned nearly nine square miles on land owned by the Forest Service, state Department
of Natural Resources and private individuals.

The fire has destroyed a hay barn. About 18 people evacuated Saturday night. Grassel says firefighters are protecting 70 homes and some orchards along Highway 97A.
      
 

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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