Sunday, July 14, 2024

Pioneer Fire grows to 3,811 acres


CHELAN — The Pioneer Fire, burning in the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Area and private land since June 8, has now grown to 3,811 acres, prompting further evacuations and increased fire suppression efforts.

Chelan County Emergency Management has extended the Level 3 (Go Now) evacuation order just north of Moore Point down lake to Canoe Creek. A Level 2 (Be Prepared) evacuation order is now in place from Canoe Creek to Lone Fir Creek, while a Level 1 (Be Aware) order has been issued from Lone Fir Creek down lake to Safety Harbor. Evacuation levels up lake remain unchanged.

Fire suppression efforts continue to be divided into two branches. In Branch I, up lake from Point No Point to Flick Creek, the fire has established itself in Meadow Creek, with minimal movement expected near Round Lake. Structure protection work is ongoing between Meadow Creek and Moore Point, with a new structure protection division beginning assessments north of Moore Point to the North Cascades National Park boundary. The fire has also progressed south through Rex Creek into Rattlesnake Creek and potentially spotted into Prince Creek, with aerial resources focusing efforts in Rattlesnake Creek to support infrastructure protection in Prince Creek.

In Branch II, down lake, heavy equipment is being used to improve Grade Creek Road (8200 Road) from Cooper Ridge Road (8020 Road) across Coyote Ridge to South Navarre and Nelson Butte, providing a safe route for fire vehicles and equipment to access the south flank. Motorists should remain alert to water tenders traveling back and forth from Antilon Lake.

A public meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at the North Cascades National Park Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin to update residents on the current situation.

As the fire progresses, increased smoke impacts are expected along the lake. The public is advised to check current air quality conditions and learn about becoming Smoke Ready.

The cause of the Pioneer Fire remains under investigation, with human factors suspected. A total of 353 personnel and 8 aircraft are currently assigned to the incident. Public safety closure orders have been expanded to include the Lakeshore Trail from Prince Creek up lake to the trailhead at Stehekin, as well as portions of the Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness, Moore Point campground, and the boat-in campgrounds at Prince Creek, Cascade Creek, and Moore Point.

Authorities continue to stress the importance of adhering to forest closure orders for the safety of the public and firefighters.


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