Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Pioneer Fire containment reaches 7%

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CHELAN— The Pioneer Fire, burning in the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Area, has grown slightly to 4,742 acres and is now 7% contained, fire officials reported Sunday. The blaze, which started on June 8, continues to challenge firefighters with its location in extreme terrain 31 miles northeast of Chelan.

Northwest Incident Management Team 7, led by Incident Commander Nate LeFevre, has increased personnel to 605 as they maintain a full suppression strategy. Firefighters are employing indirect attack methods and point zone protection to safeguard structures and critical infrastructure.

On Saturday, fire managers utilized an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to assess the fire and identify future suppression opportunities. Crews in Stehekin implemented a structure protection plan, constructing new handline from Boulder Creek north to Rainbow Creek.

A public meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, July 1, at the Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin. Officials noted this meeting will not have a virtual option.

Weather forecasts predict cooler temperatures with down-lake winds gusting up to 30 mph and a slight chance of rain, which may assist firefighting efforts.

Evacuation levels were downgraded on June 28, though closures remain in effect for parts of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, including areas within the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness.

Fire officials continue to emphasize safety, asking recreational boaters to maintain distance from helicopters collecting water from Lake Chelan. They also remind visitors to check current fire restrictions and practice proper campfire safety.

The cause of the fire, while confirmed as human-caused, remains under investigation.

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