Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Pioneer Fire continues slow growth as management teams transition

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CHELAN — The Pioneer Fire, burning in the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Area, has grown slightly to 4,339 acres as of Monday, June 24, according to fire officials. The blaze, located 31 miles northeast of Chelan, has been burning since June 8.

Complex Incident Management Team Northwest 13, led by Incident Commander Brian Gales, is preparing to hand over control of firefighting operations to Team Northwest 7 on Tuesday morning. The transition comes as fire managers implement a long-term strategic plan spanning nearly the entire north shore of Lake Chelan, from Stehekin to Manson.

Fire activity remains concentrated between Meadow Creek to the north and Prince Creek to the south, with the fire slowly backing into both drainages. Crews continue to reinforce protection systems around Moore Point and improve containment lines extending from Fish Creek Trail to Moore Mountain.

Firefighters are focusing on protecting critical infrastructure along the lakeshore from Moore Point to Stehekin, while also maintaining historic contingency lines around the community. Downstream, patrols are monitoring homes and structures within the fire perimeter at Rex and Pioneer Creeks.

A contingency group is preparing a secondary line around Oss Peak as an additional precautionary measure. Fire managers have also established a six-vessel boat group to facilitate the transport of personnel, equipment, and supplies between Chelan, Lucerne, Stehekin, and the fire area.

Despite the ongoing firefighting efforts, local communities, including Stehekin, Chelan, and Manson, remain open to visitors. However, motorists using the Grade Creek Road system should expect 30-minute delays due to increased fire personnel and equipment movement.

Evacuation levels have remained unchanged since June 16, with updates available through Chelan County's official channels. The cause of the fire, while confirmed as human-caused, remains under investigation.

As of Monday, 557 personnel are assigned to the fire, supported by nine aircraft. Air resources were partially diverted on Sunday to assist with the Gold Creek Fire suppression efforts, as water drops were not required on the Pioneer Fire.

Fire officials continue to urge residents and visitors to monitor air quality conditions and stay informed about potential health impacts from smoke.

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