Approximately 110 people attended a public information meeting tonight hosted by the Forest Service at the Lake Wenatchee Rec Club. District Ranger Jeff Rivera, Deputy Incident Commander Ed Lewis, County Commissioner Keith Goehner, Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett and other fire incident commanders were present.
There are currently about 10 major fires burning in the area from near Blewett Pass to Entiat with a new fire or two appearing every day. There are approximately 1950 personnel engaged in the fire-fighting effort plus 12 bulldozers, 120 fire engines, 13 helicopters and three fixed wing aircraft. One firefighter has died from a medical emergency while on duty and three have sustained injuries. The fires to date have blackened approximately 39,000 acres and total containment would be currently placed at 22% of all fire perimeters. Level three evacuations have been ordered this evening in the Forest Ridge and Wenatchee Heights area South of Wenatchee toward Mission Ridge.
A lot of the smoke currently plaguing the area is coming from the Cashmere and Table Mountain fires in the Mission Creek and Blewett Pass area. Fires in closer proximity to the lake are also contributing to the smoke level. The fire in the Sears Creek area up the White River has to date burned about 100 acres in steep terrain. It is manned and is being worked by helicopter drops also. This fire is not currently threatening any homes but has resulted in the closure of the Sears Creek bridge and road off the White River Road. More assets will be coming to this fire tomorrow and a helicopter base will be established at the Lake Wenatchee airstrip, probably tomorrow, to combat the several fires in our area.
Another fire visible from the lake is near Maverick Peak, just North of maverick Saddle to the Northeast of the lake. This fire is also in steep terrain and is being worked by helicopters and a HotShots crew under difficult conditions with burning logs rolling downhill , etc. This fire has resulted in the closure of the Forest Service Road to Deer Camp, Maverick Saddle and Sugarloaf Ridge. Due to fires in the Basalt Mountain area the road to Trinity is closed at the winter-closure gate. The Sheriff strongly urges people to comply with these closures to facilitate the movement of large fire apparatus on narrow roads. A person in a passenger car recently drove off road around a closure barricade and started yet another fire in dry grass from the heat of his emission system. Such violators will be charged criminally.
Fire commanders foresee weather conditions over the next two or three days that could result in heavier fire behavior. Fire and road closure updates are posted twice daily and may be accessed off the County website at http://www.co.chelan.wa.us