Okanogan Complex Fire now 132,682 acres; 85% contained - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Okanogan Complex Fire now 132,682 acres; 85% contained

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Firefighters battling the Okanogan Complex fire. Photo: Anya Tugaw Firefighters battling the Okanogan Complex fire. Photo: Anya Tugaw
PHOTO: Steve Perry PHOTO: Steve Perry
OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash. -

September 12, 2015 12:15 p.m.: As of Saturday afternoon the Okanogan Complex fire is now 85 percent contained and 132,682 acres in size. The Chelan Complex, which is being managed by the same fire crews is 80 percent contained and 88,873 acres.

On the Okanogan Complex fire, the fire was moderately active yesterday as unburned pockets of fuel in the fire’s interior burned and produced smoke visible to residents in surrounding communities. The same fire behavior can be expected today. Firelines remain secure, and the fire does not pose a threat to structures or communities near the perimeter. Smoke from Canadian fires might be visible again today in the Okanogan Valley.

On the Chelan Complex, single-tree torching occurred Friday as the weather became hotter and drier on the fireline, which caused increased smoke in the area. Increasing winds will be a cause for heightened awareness Saturday. Islands of unburned fuels on the interior of the fire are slowly burning as well. Those burning interior islands are not a threat to the firelines. The public should expect fire behavior to increase through the weekend. Fire crews say you can expect to see large helicopters dipping in the river near the Gold Creek area. Please exercise caution when driving Highway 153 in that area.

September 7, 2015 11:00 a.m.: As of Monday morning the Okanogan Complex is now 70 percent contained and remained at 148,780 acres in size. 
The Okanogan Complex and the Chelan Complex have merged for management purposes. Both complexes are under the command of California Interagency Incident Management Team 5. The team produces one daily update that covers all fires on both complexes. Each complex's InciWeb page remains active and is updated throughout the day.

Here are the fire stats for the Okanogan and Chelan Complex fires: 

Okanogan Complex

Size: 148,780 acres

Containment: 70 percent

Estimated Cost to Date: 30.3 million

Injuries: 7

Residences Damaged or Destroyed: 123

Total Personnel: 1,300

Committed Resources: 25 crews, 73 engines, 9 helicopters

18 dozers, 25 water tenders, 9 skidgines, 1 masticator

Chelan Complex

Size: 94,301 acres

Containment: 75 percent

Estimated Cost to Date: $16.1 million

Injuries: 9

Residences Damaged or Destroyed: 23

Total Personnel: 680

Committed Resources: 11 crews, 52 engines, 6 helicopters, 5 dozers, 14 water tenders, 4 skidgines, 1 masticator



September 6, 2015 10:40 a.m.: As of Sunday morning the Okanogan Complex fire is now 65 percent contained with no change in size. It remains 148,780 acres. Here is a breakdown of the Okanogan Fire's stats, along with the Chelan Complex fire, which is being managed by the same fire crews.

Okanogan Complex

Size: 148,780 acres

Containment: 65 percent Estimated

Cost to Date: 33.9 million

Injuries: 7

Residences Damaged or Destroyed: 123

Total Personnel: 1,107 Committed Resources: 16 crews, 72 engines, 9 helicopters 11 dozers, 22 water tenders, 9 skidgines, 1 masticator

Chelan Complex

Size: 93,896 acres

Containment: 75 percent

Estimated Cost to Date: $16.9 million

Injuries: 9

Residences Damaged or Destroyed: 23

Total Personnel: 704

Committed Resources: 11 crews, 57 engines, 5 dozers, 14 water tenders, 4 skidgines, 1 masticator

OKANOGAN COMPLEX:  Lime Belt Fire (132,838 acres, 60 percent contained): Yesterday firefighters attempted a burning operation off Forest Road (FR) 42, but the high humidity and cloudy skies hampered burning. A firing operation is considered successful if it adequately burns the surface fuels, creating “clean black” and giving the main fire nothing to consume. East of FR 42, where the weather and fuel conditions were more conducive for defensive firing, crews burned all remaining small pockets of fuel between the fire’s edge and an established dozer line. On the northwest side of the fire, skidgines assisted firefighters in their mop-up efforts. Skidgines have a water-holding capacity of eight hundred to twenty-five hundred gallons. They can traverse terrain that an engine cannot, providing a close source of water to firefighters and reducing the amount of hose needed as they mop-up far from roads. Starting today, all of the tree-falling crews will be working for several days along FR 42, cutting down hundreds of fire-weakened hazard trees to ensure public safety when the road is reopened.

Twisp River Fire (11,222 acres, 98 percent contained) and Nine Mile Fire (4,720 acres, 98 percent contained): Firefighters expect to finish suppression-repair work on the Twisp Fire today. They will then focus on repairing areas of the Nine Mile Fire damaged by fire-suppression efforts.

CHELAN COMPLEX: The fire did not grow significantly yesterday. It continues to burn slowly downslope toward the Saint Luise Creek drainage on the northwest side of the fire. Aircraft water drops will be used to prevent the fire from crossing the creek due to the area being unsafe for firefighters to access on the ground. Elsewhere on the fire, crews are patrolling and mopping up along the perimeter and around structures. Firefighters in the suppression-repair group continue to repair dozer lines. Last night was the last night crews will be working a night shift on this fire.

September 5, 2015 1:10 p.m.:

Okanogan Complex

Size: 148,780 acres

Containment: 60 percent

Estimated Cost to Date: 32 million

Injuries: 7

Residences Burned: 123

Total Personnel: 1,107

Committed Resources: 16 crews, 72 engines, 11 dozers, 21 water tenders, 9 helicopters
 

Chelan Complex

Size: 93,896 acres

Containment: 75 percent

Estimated Cost to Date: $16 million

Injuries: 9

Residences Burned: 23

Total Personnel: 659

Committed Resources: 11 crews, 42 engines, 5 dozers, 14 water tenders

CURRENT FIRE SITUATION: Firefighters on the Okanogan and Chelan complexes will have help from overcast skies again today as they continue to build and strengthen containment lines around the fires. The clouds and cooler temperatures help moderate fire activity. While the fire is staying within containment lines, fire behavior analysts caution that fuels remain very dry and the fire is burning deep in some areas. When those smoldering pockets are disturbed the fire can flare up, causing increased activity within the perimeters of the fires. OKANOGAN COMPLEX Lime Belt Fire (132,838 acres, 55 percent contained): Much of the focus of work on the Lime Belt Fire remains on portions of the western and northern perimeter. Weather permitting, crews hope to do direct line construction this weekend in the area west of the Loup Loup Road, between Buck and Peacock mountains. Firefighters are also continuing work to secure containment lines in the Sinlahekin drainage. They are using seven skidgens – specialized heavy equipment for fighting fire in rough terrain – to complete that work. Twisp River Fire (11,222 acres, 98 percent contained) and Nine Mile Fire (4,720 acres, 98 percent contained): Work to repair areas damaged by fire suppression activities on the Twisp River Fire is expected to be completed today. Fire managers will focus next on repairing areas of the Nine Mile Fire. CHELAN COMPLEX The fire continues to burn along Saint Luise Creek on the northern end of the fire. Due to the steep, rugged terrain in that area crews cannot directly attack the fire safely. That portion of the fire is being held in check with helicopter bucket work and being monitored for opportunities for direct attack where possible.

September 4, 2015 2:30 p.m.:

Okanogan Complex
Size: 148,747 acres

Containment: 60 percent

Estimated Cost to Date: $30.9 million

Injuries: 6

Residences Burned: 123

Total Personnel: 1,188

Committed Resources: 19 crews, 73 engines,

11 dozers, 23 water tenders, 9 helicopters

Chelan Complex
Size: 93,877 acres
Containment: 70 percent
Estimated Cost to Date: $14.9 million
Injuries: 9
Residences Burned: 21
Total Personnel: 613

Committed Resources: 9 crews, 25 engines, 5 dozers,

14 water tenders

CURRENT FIRE SITUATION

The fire was minimally active yesterday—due to mostly cloudy skies over the fire area—and firefighters were able to increase containment. To put their work in context, 5 percent containment equals 15 miles of constructed line. If the containment lines for the Okanogan Complex were stretched straight, they would be 313 miles long. The Lime Belt and Chelan Fires continue to be most active on their north and northwest ends. 
 

OKANOGAN COMPLEX

Lime Belt Fire (132,805 acres, 55 percent contained): The fire-suppression priority today is the area north of Buck Mountain where the fire remains east of Forest Road 42. Crews will prepare a section of indirect dozer line for tomorrow’s planned defensive firing operations. The goal is to halt the fire’s spread northwest toward Granite Mountain. East of Peacock Meadow, the fire has not crossed the Loup Loup Canyon Road. The fire has backed downslope to the road in many places and is secure. Where it has not reached the road, the fire is not expected to move further and is secure where it is. On the fire’s northern tip, in the Sinlahekin Valley, crews will mop up yesterday’s firing operation on the canyon rim. The public may observe smoke and aircraft activity as firefighters continue to work on the fireline.

Twisp River Fire (11,222 acres, 98 percent contained) and Nine Mile Fire (4,720 acres, 98 percent contained): Heavy-equipment operators, under the guidance of resource advisors, continue to repair areas damaged by fire-suppression activities on the Twisp River Fire. The Nine Mile Fire will be monitored by air.

CHELAN COMPLEX

Crews continued to secure the fireline around Hungry Mountain and Rainy Creek yesterday on the northern tip of the fire. Structure-protection crews are present in the McFarland Creek area around the clock. Firefighters are building some direct fireline, but the terrain is so steep and dangerous that it is unsafe for firefighters to access the fire directly along Saint Luise Creek. The fire’s northwest spread is being held in check by large-capacity helicopters and favorable weather conditions.

EVACUATIONS AND ROAD CLOSURES

Okanogan County Emergency Operations Center provides information on evacuations and road closures:

509-422-7348, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Okanogan.County.Emergency.Management

Washington State Department of Transportation provides additional information about road closures:www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts.

UPDATE: September 3, 2015 12:30 p.m.:

The Okanogan Complex Fire is now listed at 148,251 acres and is 50 percent contained. 

TOTAL ACREAGE & CONTAINMENT FOR OKANOGAN COMPLEX FIRES:

Lime Belt: 132,309 55%

Twisp River: 11,222 98%

Nine Mile: 4,720 98%

UPDATE: September 2, 1:00 p.m.:

The Okanogan Complex Fire is now listed at 147,979 acres and is 45 percent contained. 

The following are the latest numbers from all of the fires in the area:

Okanogan Complex 

Size: 147,979 acres 

Containment: 45 percent 

Estimated Cost to Date: $16.4 million 

Injuries: 6 

Residences Burned: 123 

Total Personnel: 1,253 

Committed Resources: 20 crews, 103 engines,

16 dozers, 27 water tenders, 4 helicopters


Chelan Complex 
Size: 93,694 acres
Containment: 55 percent
Estimated Cost to Date: $12.9 million
Injuries: 8
Residences Burned: 21 
Total Personnel: 688

Committed Resources: 10 crews, 50 engines, 6 dozers,

23 water tenders, 8 helicopters
 

OKANOGAN COMPLEX

Lime Belt Fire (132,037 acres, 35 percent contained):

West of the Sinlahekin Valley on the northwest corner of the fire, firefighters have constructed fireline and continue to improve and strengthen it. Firefighters are scouting for areas of concern along the Loup Loup Canyon Road and will construct direct line when fire and weather conditions permit. South of Peacock Mountain firefighers continue building fireline and mopping up from previous defensive firing operations. The southwest corner of the fire west of the 42 road, firefighters will look for opportunities to conduct defensive firing operations to limit fire spread to Mineral Hill and Granite Mountain.

Twisp River Fire (11,222 acres, 98 percent contained): About 50 firefighters are still performing direct suppression activities and mopping up. Heavy equipment—including road graders, excavators, water tenders, and dozers— will be returning to the fire area today to assist with suppression-repair efforts.

Nine Mile Fire (4,720 acres, 98 percent contained): The fire will continue to be monitored by air. Suppression-repair crews will remove about 2,000 feet of hose from the fireline.

CHELAN COMPLEX

The southern half of the fire is being patrolled by air and crews will be assessing suppression-repair needs. The fire grew slightly to the north yesterday near Hungry Mountain. Crews are protecting structures in the Gold Creek area. Air operations, which are benefiting from clear skies, are able to assist firefighters with the challenging northwest corner of the fire. The fire remains south of Rainy Creek.

WEATHER

Warmer drier air is expected to move into the area today, and the relative humidity will be around 25 percent. Southwest winds will be weaker than yesterday, with gusts up to 20 miles per hour. The chance of rain today is very slight.

EVACUATIONS

Information on evacuations is available from the Okanogan County Emergency Operations Center at

509-422-7348 and on its Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/Okanogan.County.Emergency.Management.

ROAD CLOSURES

Many firefighters and equipment are working along the roads. Please stay alert and slow down when driving through the fire area. Information on road closures is available from the Okanogan County Emergency Operations Center at 509-422-7348 and on its Facebook page (link above). Additional information about closures is available from the Washington State Department of Transportation at www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts.

Previous Coverage:

UPDATE September 1, 4:30 p.m.: The now-144,179 acre Okanogan Complex Fire has not grown since Monday. It is now 40 percent contained Tuesday afternoon. Crews are securing, holding, and mopping up containment lines.

There is a community meeting scheduled for tonight Brewster High School (503 South 7th Street) at 7:00 p.m. Management teams will discuss the status of both the Okanogan and Chelan Complexes.

Okanogan County Emergency Management says many evacuation levels have been downgraded. See the full list below:

Level 3 - Leave Immediately 
- Aeneas Valley
- Crawfish Lake
- Disautel – west to Omak
- Kartar Valley
- Moses Meadows
- North of South Nanamkin on Hwy 21
- Tunk area

Level 2 – Be Ready
- Gardener Creek Rd at Ferry County Line
- Nespelem and Nespelem HUDs
- Owhi Flats
- properties between Hwy 97 and the Omak Riverside Eastside Rd.
- South Nanamkin Creek – South to Cache Creek Rd turnoff on Hwy 21
- areas south and east of Omak Lake. (From Omak South on Columbia River Rd. to Omak Lake Rd, East to Coyote Creek Rd on BIA 1017 Rd, West to Cold Springs Road, North to Omak)

Level 1 – Alert
- Alta Lake
- Buzzard Lake Rd
- Chiliwist
- Brewster
- Carlton
- Chesaw
- Clarkston Mill
- Colville Agency
- Town of Conconully greater area
- Gold Creek Rd.
- Gold Creek Loop Rd.
- South Fork Gold Cr. Rd
- Middle, North Forks Gold Cr. Rds.
- Havillah
- Leader Lake 
- Loomis
- Malott
- Mazama
- Methow
- Methow Valley north from Alta Lake to Ross Rd. north of Carlton
- Molson
- Okanogan
- Omak
- Omak Flats
- Oroville
- Pateros
- Pine Forest Area
- Pleasant Valley
- Riverside
- State Frontage Rd outside Tonasket
- Sun Mountain
- Tonasket
- Twisp
- Twisp River Rd
- Twisp River

UPDATE August 31, 4:00 p.m.: Yesterday the Okanogan Complex Fire was burning more than 304,000 acres, but today it's 144,179 acres. Management teams battling the fires say with the Tunk Block fire and the North Star fire growing together, teams fighting the North Star Fire near Republic have taken over the 161,000-acre Tunk Block fire. As fire crews continue to manage limited resources, the total acreage of the Okanogan Complex has plummeted and containment has reached 30 percent.

California Interagency Incident Management Team 5 has transferred management of the Tunk Block portion of the Okanogan Complex to the Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 3. The Pacific Northwest Team will manage both the North Star and Tunk Block Fires. In addition, California Team 5 assumed command of the Chelan Complex, to the south, at 6 o'clock Monday morning. California Team 5 will participate in a public meeting about the Chelan Fire at the Brewster High School at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1.

UPDATE August 30, 10:30 a.m.:  Fire crews battling the Okanogan Complex Fire say that despite strong winds Saturday, fire growth was minimal. As of Sunday morning the fire is 304,782 acres and 25 percent contained. Rain, cooler temperatures, and higher humidity are helping crews on the Okanogan Complex Sunday as they work to secure containment lines around the fire. Officials say even with the rain, dense and large vegetation remains dry in many areas and is still burning.

Additionally, Okanogan County Emergency Management reports Sunday morning that the evacuation level for the town of Conconully has been downgraded to Level 1 and air quality in the area is improving.

UPDATE August 29, 1:20 p.m.: As of Saturday afternoon, the Okanogan Complex Fire is now 302,225 acres with 23 percent containment.

A level 2 evacuation notice has been issued Saturday for an area starting at Alta lake, going north across the Methow River, to Watson Draw, to French Creek, to Texas Creek, then west to Ross Road, to State Route 153, then crossing the Methow River, to Puckett Crest, then south to Libby Creek, Gold Creek, South Fork Gold Creek, McFarland Creek, Squaw Creek, Black Canyon and back to Alta Lake. Level TWO is a be prepared to evacuate NOTICE. Persons should be aware of their surrounding and ready to leave the area immediately. This notice has been issued due to the fire advancing from Gold Creek, due to the heavy winds predicted for Saturday. With wind activity, fires are predicted to move rapidly. Persons should evacuate sooner, rather than later. Evacuate out of the area, proceeding to the Brewster area. Shelters are open in Pateros.

Individual fire stats:

Tunk Block Fire: 158,892 acres, 10 percent contained

Lime Belt/Blue Lake/Beaver Lake Fire: 126,782 acres, 15 percent contained

Twisp River: 11,831 acres, 96 percent contained

Nine Mile Fire: 4,720 acres, 95 percent contained

The estimated cost to fight the Okanogan Complex Fire is currently $18.47 million. Almost 2,000 firefighters are battling the fire now.

UPDATE August 28, 1:25 p.m.

IMMEDIATE EVACUATION LEVEL 3:
NORTH, MIDDLE AND SOUTH FORKS OF GOLD CREEK AND GOLD CREEK ROAD ARE ASKED TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY.

USE HWY 153 AND HEAD TOWARDS TWISP AND PATEROS.
 

Update: August 28, 10:00 a.m.:  The Okanogan Complex grew more than 20,000 acres in the last 24 hours and containment has decreased from 17% to 12%.

Conditions yesterday resulted in growth of the fire in five priority areas, including the four corners of the fire. On the southeast corner of the Tunk Block, the fire grew along Highway 155 near the community of Disautel. The northeast corner of the Tunk Fire, west of the Aeneas Valley flared up in an area between fuels breaks. There was also increased fire activity in the Crawfish Lake area on the eastern side of the Tunk Block. The southwestern corner of the Lime Belt Fire near Bobcat Mountain saw growth towards the Tripod Fire scar. There was also increased activity on the northwestern corner of the Lime Belt Fire in the Sinlahekin Valley.

The clearer skies yesterday enabled the use of retardant tankers to help check the spread of fires in those priority areas. Firefighters have been working to herd the fire away from populated areas and structure protection crews have been working late into the night to safeguard homes.

Overcast skies, cooler temperatures, and higher humidity are expected to help moderate fire behavior on the Okanogan Complex today and crews will take advantage of those conditions to prepare for an expected increase in wind over the next few days.

The Twisp River and Nine Mile Fires are largely contained, with patrolling and mop up continuing. Because of the increase in acreage, the percentage of containment has dropped for the complex overall.

The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team is wrapping up its time on the Okanogan Complex and the California Incident Management Team 5 will assume management of the fire on Saturday.

Evacuations and Closures: The public is encouraged to contact the Okanogan Emergency Operations Center to learn how to register for automated phone messages in the event of evacuation notices being issued for particular neighborhoods. Contact emergency staff at 509-422-7348 or the Colville Tribal Emergency Management Center at 507-634-2105.

Okanogan Complex Fire Statistics:
Location: Eleven miles northwest of Omak, WA Start Date: August 14, 2015

Complex Size: 302,224 acres Complex Percent Contained: 12%

Twisp River: 11,831 acres, 85% containment

Tunk Block: 158,892 acres, 10%

Lime Belt/Blue Lake and Beaver Lake: 126,781 acres, 15%

Nine Mile: 4,720 acres, 95%, in patrol status.

Total Personnel: 1,831

Resources Include: 37 crews, 7 helicopters, 173 engines, 1 ambulance, 38 dozers, 41 water tenders, 1 skidder.


Update: August 27, 11 a.m.: The Okanogan Complex fire remained at 280,267 acres and 17% containment. More than 1,774 fire personnel from 33 states are fighting the Okanogan fire or working to support the firefighting effort. Crews working last night had a relatively quiet night. 

A Red Flag Warning is in effect today for winds, low humidity and high temperatures. We expect an increase in fire activity to challenge firefighters on the Okanogan Complex. Those southerly winds are also likely to help clear the smoke and allow the use of aircraft, both helicopters and heavy air tankers, to make water and retardant drops.

Crews will be focused today on the four corners where the fire has been most active and where terrain and fuels present challenges to containment. Increased fire activity is expected in the afternoon, so there may be torching and short-range spotting of fire in some areas. If you see a flare-up in the fire area, please do not call 911 unless it is threatening a home or other structure.

Residents in the fire area are likely to see increased activity by air tankers, helicopters and other aviation resources today and should stay aware and steer clear of that activity if at all possible. Motorists on Hwy 20 and 97 are asked to slow down in the fire vicinity for their own safety and the safety of fire crews exiting and entering the highway.

The public is encouraged to contact the Okanogan Emergency Operations Center to learn how to register for automated phone messages in the event of evacuation notices being issued for particular neighborhoods. Contact emergency staff at 509-422-7348 or the Colville Tribal Emergency Management Center at 507-634-2105.

Update: August 26, 11 a.m.: Okanogan Complex Fire is now at 280,267 acres and is 17% contained. The increase in containment from Tuesday is much welcomed news. There are 1,345 personnel fighting the fire currently.

There are currently 7,700 homes under all levels of evacuations. The Okanogan County Assessors Office has just started the process of tallying burned structures. Currently 25 residential homes, 15 mobile homes and 48 outbuildings have been confirmed to be either completely burned or severely damaged. Those are just preliminary numbers, there are more structures to count. 

Todd Pechota says fire crews remained focused on the following four objectives in the following order of importance: 

1.) Life and safety of the public and firefighters 
2.) Protection of critical infrastructure
3.) Protection of private property and structures
4.) Obtaining containment goals

Currently, the biggest safety concern to firefighters are bee stings. Pechota says multiple people are getting stung daily. 

Update: August 25, 11 a.m.: Incident Commander, Todd Pechota reports that because of problems with their infrared aircraft over the last 24 hours, they were not able to get an update on the exact size of the fire. They know there has been some fire growth but they don't want to speculate, so at this time, the fire remains at 256,567 acres. Containment has increased to 15%.

Update: August 24, 11 a.m.: Incident Commander Todd Pechota reports that the Okanogan Complex has now grown to 256,567 acres. In the last two days a lot of line has been constructed around the fire but authorities will not consider it contained line until they have full confidence the line will hold up. For this reason, the fire remains at just 10% contained. 

New level 2 evacuations have been issued for Loomis, WA and officials want to reiterate to people to have a back-up plan in place and not solely rely on cell phones for information as cell phone service could go out. 

There were no new reports of buildings lost on Sunday and there is still no exact number of structures in total. It could take weeks for an official total to be released. The Okanogan County assessors office will fly overhead with assessor maps only once the area is deemed safe, and give an official report on homes and buildings lost.

Authorities also asked that people stay inside their homes and stay off the roadways if they are not being told to evacuate. This will keep roads clear and everyone safe. Air quality is currently listed in the "Red Zone" which means it is unhealthy for all. Children, pregnant mothers and those with respiratory illnesses are being cautioned to avoid the outdoors altogether.

For current updates on air quality in your region or county you can check here: www.wasmoke.blogspot.com

Update: August 23, 11:45 a.m.: At a press conference Sunday, fire officials reported the Okanogan Complex has grown to a combined acreage of 244,453 acres. Incident Commander Todd Pechota said the entire complex is now 10 percent contained.

Pechota says Saturday was a much better day, but there is still much work to be done.

Air quality in the area is poor Sunday. Pechota calls the smoky air "a blessing and a curse," because the smoke reduces fire behavior, but aircraft can't be used to fight the blaze. He says National Guard helicopters were called in Sunday morning, but had to turn around because of poor visibility.

Officials say about 1,000 firefighters are on the scene of the complex now. Additionally, 50 National Guard troops have been called in to fight this fire and additional fire crews are expected to arrive at the fire as early as Tuesday.

Crews are making progress, but Pechota called the fire "unrelenting." 

"When you do catch a break, it's a short break."

UPDATE August 23, 9:30 a.m.: A press conference with new information on the Okanogan Complex Fire is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday. That press conference will be streamed live on KHQ.com. Okanogan County Emergency Management has updated evacuation levels as of 9 a.m.:

Level 3: Malott, Aenes Valley, Conconully, Omak Flats/Green Acres (North), Twisp River Road, Tunk Area

Level 2: Tonasket, Twisp, Winthrop

Level 1: Carlton, Chesaw, Mazama, Mason, Omak, Oroville, Pateros, Brewster, Okanogan, Riverside, Omak Flats (south of Epley & Bide-a-Wee)

There is a Red Flag (Fire Weather) Warning in effect beginning at noon today, so all areas should remain alert to changing fire conditions and evacuation levels.

UPDATE August 22, 11:30 a.m: Fire officials now estimate the Okanogan Complex Fire is now burning an estimated 227,000 acres between the five fires that make up the complex. They hope calmer weather will help them make progress on the fire Saturday and go on the offensive.

"I'm optimistic we will make progress today," Incident Commander Todd Pechote said in a press conference.

The Okanogan Complex is made up of the Twisp River Fire, The Tunk Block Fire, the Lime Belt Fire and the Beaver Lake fire. Pechote says the highest priority for firefighters Saturday is the Twisp River fire.

Pechote sounded determined to make progress on the fire with the help of calmer weather.

"We are going to cut fire lines today with all the tools we've got."

When asked what firefighters are asking for, his answer was simple: Rain.

"They don't ask for much," he said, "They're a tremendous group of individuals that I'm happy to work with." 

Current evacuation levels are as follows:

Level 3: Conconully, Malott, Aeneas Valley, Omak Flats, Twisp River Road
Level 2: Winthrop, Riverside, Tonasket, Twisp
Level 1: Omak, Brewster, Mazama, Carlton, Oroville, Pateros, Chesaw, Molson, Okanogan

UPDATE August 22, 10:40 a.m.: Fire officials will hold a press conference with the latest information on the Okanogan Complex Fire at 11 a.m. Saturday morning. That press conference will be streaming live on KHQ.com. KHQ's Patrick Erickson reports fire officials estimate the size of the fire at 355 square miles. That's 100 miles larger than Friday.

UPDATE August 21, 4:08 p.m.:

EVACUATION UPDATE #3 - Level 3. Evacuate immediately. Do not wait for door-to-door notification; do not shelter in place.
Evacuate within the parameters of the following areas: Twisp River Road, East Buttermilk Road, West Buttermilk Road. Twisp River Road from Arnica Lane to Little Bridge Creek.

Current Evacuation orders for towns: 
- Level 3 include Aeneas Valley, Conconully, Malott, Omak Flats and Winthrop.
- Level 2 includes Okanogan, Riverside, Tonasket and Twisp.
- Level 1 includes Brewster, Carlton, Mazama, Omak, Oroville and
Pateros.

UPDATE August 21, 2:18 p.m.: 

From Okanogan PUD: Due to fire activity, the Loup Loup Transmission Line tripped out of service at approximately 1:30 today. Twisp and Winthrop are without power. Crews will be assessing the extent of the damage to this transmission line. We have no estimate of power restoration to this area.

UPDATE: August 21, 2015 11:30 a.m.:

The Okanogan Complex Fire has grown to around 161,633 acres.

The Okanogan Complex Fire includes the Tunk Block Fire, the Beaver Lake Fire, the Lime Belt/Blue Lake Fire and the Twisp River Fire. 

Tunk Block -  Active fire behavior in north corner.

Beaver Laker - Fire Grew significantly overnight to the southeast and is currently at Hwy 20.

Lime Belt/Blue Lake - Fire moved southeast and crossed Salmon Creek Road. Point protection of structures in rural areas of Omak.

Twisp River - Crews working structure protection along the Twisp River Road. Fire is moving down valley.

UPDATE: Evacuation levels in Twisp and Tonasket have been reduced to a Level 2. Continue to listen to local radio stations. Be prepared to evacuate if ordered.

ROAD CLOSURE UPDATE: State Route 20 is closed from Tonasket to milepost 274 at Aeneas Valley Road due to fire activity.

EVACUATION UPDATE #2 - Level 3. Evacuate immediately. Do not wait for door-to-door notification; do not shelter in place.
Evacuate within the following areas: from Highway 155 south/down Columbia River Road to the Kartar Valley should evacuate to Brewster.

EVACUATION UPDATE #1 - Level 3. Evacuate immediately. Do not wait for door-to-door notification; do not shelter in place.

Evacuate within the following areas: Havillah, all of Swanson Mill Road (east of US 97) to US Forest Service boundary. For now, evacuate to Oroville.

UPDATE: August 21, 2015 10:30 a.m.:

EVACUATION UPDATE #1 - Level 3. Evacuate immediately. Do not wait for door-to-door notification; do not shelter in place.

Evacuate within the following areas: Havillah, Swanson Mill Road to US Forest Service boundary. For now, evacuate to Oroville.

EVACUATION UPDATE #2 - Level 3. Evacuate immediately. Do not wait for door-to-door notification; do not shelter in place.
Evacuate within the following areas: from Highway 155 south/down Columbia River Road to the Kartar Valley should evacuate to Brewster.

UPDATE: August 21, 2015 2:34am.

EVACUATION NOTICE – Level 3

from Danker Rd. cutoff to include Pogue Rd, Fairview Dr., Bogey Dr., Conconully to Cherry

EVACUATION ORDER - Level 2

Mill Street to city limits to include 11th, Woodstill Rd., Dunning Rd., Vin Mar, Hennepin St., Murray St.

UPDATE: August 21, 2015 2:24am.

EVACUATION NOTICE – Level 3

from Salmon Creek to city limits of Okanogan South on West side of Okanogan River to North city limits of Malott

UPDATE: August 20, 2015 7:15 p.m.

EVACUATION NOTICE – Level 3 for City of Tonasket. Evacuate immediately. Do not wait for door-to-door notification. Proceed south using U.S. 97 (now open) to shelter in Brewster at Brewster High School, 503 S. 7th Street

EVACUATION NOTICE #3– Level 3. Evacuate immediately. Do not wait for door-to-door notification; do not shelter in place. Evacuate within the following areas:
• West 10 miles from Davis Canyon
• All of Chiliwist
• North to Spring Coulee
• East to Okanogan city limits
• South along the river to Davis Canyon

Evacuation routes – north to Okanogan or south to Brewster.

SR 20 is closed to traffic in both directions from milepost 262 at Tonasket to milepost 275 at the Aeneas Valley Road, 13 miles east of Tonasket, due to fire activity. There is no detour available.

UPDATE: August 20, 2015 2:16 p.m.: 

Okanogan PUD Public Service Announcement:


Severe winds last night fueled flames and prompted the evacuation of the towns of Twisp, Winthrop, Conconully, Riverside and portions of Omak. PUD crews are assessing the damage from last night’s activities and continue to focus on restoring electric and fiber services that have been affected by the aggressive fires that continue to threaten Okanogan County. The PUD has several areas currently without power and telecommunication service. The PUD anticipates that half of those customers will have electric service restored before 5:00 p.m. today.
Fires continue to threaten the Loup Loup Transmission line. The line is currently energized and serving the towns of Twisp and Winthrop. This line will continue to stay energized unless (1) the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requests the line to be de-energized for firefighting safety, or (2) the fire burns the transmission line.


Weather predictions indicate high winds beginning this afternoon and continuing through this Friday. The PUD is encouraging customers to make preparations for outages due to wind, downed lines and fire damage.


Please be aware of your situation, determine evacuation routes and check on neighbors who may not have received notification. For customers that have been affected by the fire or to report outages or downed lines, please call 509-422-3310.

UPDATE: August 20, 2015 11:00 p.m.: 

Last night state mobilization resources arrived for assignment. The weather dictated the fire growth in all Branches of the Complex. The Twisp River Fire is now apart of the Okanogan Complex as Branch 3. A Type 1 National Incident Management Team will be arriving today to be briefed by Washington Incident Management Team 2 (Type 2 IMT). A press conference will be held at the Incident Command Post to give an update on the fire situation.

The press conference can be seen at noon in the player above. 

Previous Coverage: 

UPDATE: August 19. 4:30 p.m.: The entire city of Winthrop is now being evacuated as well from the Okanogan Complex Fire.

UPDATE: August 19, 4:00 p.m.: Okanogan County Emergency Management says the entire city of Twisp is under evacuation from the wildfire. It is moving quickly toward Winthrop. The Red Cross Shelter set up at Brewster High School

UPDATE: August 19, 12:00 p.m.: Fire officials say the Okanogan Complex Fire, consisting of the Lime Belt & Blue Lake Fires, the Tunk Block Fire, the Beaver Lake Fire and the Nine Mile Fire, has burn nearly 31,000 acres. 

Lime Belt and Blue Lake Fires: 14,662 acres. The fire is located east on Conconully, Washington. It spread across the Conconully Highway and is now burning in the Salmon Creek and Happy Hill area. Crews will spend Wednesday flanking the fire and building a fire line. 

Tunk Block fire is now 11,231 acres and is burning near the town of Riverside, Washington. On Tuesday, the fire burned across the Okanogan River and Highway 97. It burned into the northwest side of Omak near the airport before being stopped by firefighters. Crews will spend Wednesday building fire lines. 

The Beaver Lake fire is located 15 miles west of Omak and has burned around 800 acres. Firefighters are looking for access points. 

The Nine Mile Fire is now at 4,704 acres and 90% contained. It is located 5 miles east of Oroville and is currently on patrol status. 

As of Wednesday morning, the evacuation levels for all areas are in advisory status, except for Conconully area, which is at evacuation. The Sinlahekin road is closed from the Upper Conconully reservoir to Fish Lake. The Tunk Creek road is closed from the Keystone road to the Chewiliken road. Forest Service Road 42 is closed from outside Conconully to Loup Loup Pass.

There will be a community meeting Wednesday night at the Omak East Side Park Dance Pavillion at 7:30 pm.

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