Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Pioneer Fire grows to 4,094 acres; New Operations Base established in Stehekin

Local communities, including Stehekin, Chelan, and Manson, remain open and continue to welcome visitors despite the ongoing firefighting efforts.

Posted

CHELAN — The Pioneer Fire, burning in the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Area, has grown to 4,094 acres as of Thursday, June 20, according to fire officials. The blaze, located 31 miles northeast of Chelan, has expanded by nearly 300 acres since Sunday evening.

Incident Commander Brian Gales reported that the fire is currently contained between Meadow Creek to the north and Prince Creek to the south. Despite challenging terrain, firefighters are employing all available strategies to identify potential containment opportunities in what has been designated a full suppression effort.

A new operational branch is being established in Stehekin, staffed by two National Park Service wildland fire modules. An additional helibase at Stehekin airport will support firefighting efforts on the fire's north flank more directly.

Structure protection efforts are nearing completion between Moore Point and Hunts Bluff, as well as around federal assets near Flick Creek. Crews have finished implementing protection measures for infrastructure and private homes between Rex Creek and Canoe Creek, and are now patrolling these areas while developing reinforcement plans.

Road work continues along the Grade Creek Road, with crews reaching the Poison Creek drainage near Camp Four. Both hand crews and heavy equipment are making progress on containment lines along Coyote Ridge between the lakeshore and Summer Blossom. Motorists are advised to expect 30-minute delays and to avoid the area if possible.

Aviation resources have played a crucial role, conducting reconnaissance missions and delivering smoke monitoring equipment to Stehekin. On Tuesday, air assets logged 29.5 hours of flight time, transporting 36 personnel, 18,000 pounds of cargo, and dropping 145,000 gallons of water on the fire.

Evacuation levels remain unchanged since June 16. Officials urge residents to stay informed through the County of Chelan, Washington website for the most current evacuation information.

A wind shift expected later today could lead to moderate air quality conditions in Chelan, Manson, and Methow by late evening, with improvement overnight. Stehekin may also experience periods of moderate air quality in the late afternoon.

Public safety closure orders remain in effect for the Lakeshore Trail from Prince Creek to the Stehekin trailhead, as well as portions of the Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness. Several boat-in campgrounds are also closed.

The cause of the Pioneer Fire, which began on June 8, remains under investigation. Officials confirm it was human-caused.

Local communities, including Stehekin, Chelan, and Manson, remain open and continue to welcome visitors despite the ongoing firefighting efforts.

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