Lightning Strikes Start Fires in Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest
While campfire bans are in place in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest to prevent fires there's nothing stopping nature from starting fires. In fact recent lightning storms delivered more than 2,700 lightning strikes in the state and firefighters have responded to 13 new wildfires in the forest. Five are located on the Wenatchee River Ranger District, six on the Cle Elum Ranger District, and one each on the Chelan and Entiat Ranger Districts.
Most of the fires are small and and under control but more could start
Most of the fires remain small, from 1/10 acre to ¾ acre. Two, however, are larger. Forest officials say the "White River Fire is estimated at 20 acres and is burning in the Sears Creek area of the White River drainage, approximately 14 miles northwest of Plain, WA. Firefighting resources on this fire include two Interagency Hotshot crews, rappelers, and a dozer."
The largest fire is the 40-50 acre Irving Peak Fire located 16 air miles northwest of Plain, WA. A press release from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest says the fire behavior there is low. Due to the very steep inaccessible, terrain, (which is incredibly hazardous to firefighter safety), the press release says "the strategy for this fire is confine and contain which means that firefighters will use a combination of natural features and eventually constructed fire line to contain this wildfire. Currently, ground-based resources are attacking many other lightning-caused fires located closer to communities."
Other fires were started in the Cle Elum Ranger District
Fire officials say five fires have happened on the Cle Elum Ranger District. Crews are either on scene or enroute hiking into the difficult to access steep terrain where these fires are located 11 and 13 miles northwest of Cle Elum, WA.
1. Thorp Mountain, 5 acres near Jolly Mountain; the fire is burning in timber and grass. Initially it was staffed with 11 smokejumpers, a 14-person crew, and two engines but firefighters have spread out to help with the other small fires in the same general area.
2. Lookout Fire, 2 acres, near Thorp Lookout
3. Knox Creek Fire, 2 acres
4. No Name Creek Fire, 1/10-1/4 acre
5. No Name Ridge Fire, 1/10-1/4 acre
Two small fires were also found on the Entiat Ranger District and on the Chelan Ranger District, both are ¼ acre and are staffed by firefighters.