Mills Canyon Fire July 13, 2014 – Morning Update ^NH

The Mills Canyon fire continues to burn south and west of the central Washington town of Entiat.  Dry fuels consisting of short grass, brush, and scattered timber on steep, rocky terrain challenge suppression efforts for fire crews. Cooperating agencies include U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Washington State Department of Natural Resources, (WA DNR), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Chelan County Emergency Management, the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, and Chelan County Fire District 8.

Yesterday

Firefighting was “very productive” yesterday.  The eastern perimeter of the fire adjacent to US Highway 97 has only a few small pockets of heat and is in a patrol status.  The lower (eastern) portion of Swakane Canyon has burned cleanly down to the containment line with very little smoke visible.  Good progress took place establishing containment lines on the upper Swakane northward through the Dinkelman Flats.  Aerially applied fire retardant drops over the last two days effectively slowed fire spread and allowed crews and equipment to extend firelines through areas of heavy fuels.  With the aid of helicopter bucket water drops, hotshot crews extended handlines down to the bottom of the Roaring Creek Canyon.  They also continued building line and setting up pumps and hoses along the creek bottom.  The steep terrain made this a very challenging operation, but hard work, skill and patience allowed crews to make significant progress.  The northern flank along the Entiat River Road also showed very little fire activity.  Night shift crews successfully completed the handline construction in Roaring Creek and began burnout operations.

Today’s Operations

Pacific Northwest Interagency Management Team 3 assumed command of the incident as of 6:00 am this morning.  Today’s plan is to continue reinforcing both primary and contingency/secondary lines to progress further toward containment. The top priorities are to reinforce and begin mop-up on mid-slope line in upper Swakane and secure the northwest flank along Roaring Creek.  An anticipated complicating factor is the forecast for thunderstorms capable of producing abundant dry lightning Sunday afternoon into Monday morning.  If such storms do materialize, they carry the dual threat of both new ignitions and strong, erratic winds on existing fires.Smoke may be heavy at times in the Entiat River valley and Wenatchee, particularly down valley from the Mills Canyon Fire.  The elderly, children, and anyone with compromised respiratory health are advised to take precautions by limiting exposure to the smoke until conditions improve. The Chelan-Douglas County Health District provides local air quality advisories (www.cdhd.wa.gov).

Fire danger remains high across Eastern Washington.  Be sure to check with your fire agencies for  restrictions, forest and state closures.

Evacuations

Level 1:  Highway 97A from Wenatchee to the Entiat River Road, along the Entiat River Road from Roaring Creek Road to Ardenvoir, Eagle Rock/Burch Mountain area, Nahahum Canyon beyond the end of the pavement, Hay Canyon beyond the end of the pavement and Olalla Canyon beyond the end of the pavement (a total of approximately 433 structures).

Level 2:  51 structures on the south side of the Entiat River Road between Mile Post 1.5 and Dinkelman Canyon and Swakane Canyon.

Level 3:  37 structures on the southwest side of Entiat River Road from Dinkelman Canyon to Roaring Creek Road and the entire Roaring Creek Road.

For additional information on evacuation levels or road closures, please refer to the Chelan County Emergency Management Facebook page.

Definitions

Level 1Alert – Residents should be aware of the danger that exists in their area, and monitor local media outlets for information. Evacuations at this time are voluntary.

Level 2Be Ready – This level indicates there is significant danger to your area, and residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or with family/friends outside of the effected area, or if choosing to remain, to be ready at a moment’s notice.

Level 3Leave Immediately – Danger to your area is current or imminent, and you should leave immediately.

Shelters

The Red Cross is operating a shelter at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on 5th and Western in Wenatchee for displaced residents. For additional information contact the Wenatchee Red Cross at 509-663-3907

Thank you!

Washington Interagency Incident Management Team 2 greatly appreciates the support of local cooperating agencies and acceptance by the communities they served during this assignment.  We are proud to have had the opportunity to assist the community of Entiat and surrounding areas.

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