Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Pioneer Fire expands to 9,055 Acres, containment holds at 14%


CHELAN — The Pioneer Fire northeast of Chelan has grown to 9,055 acres, fire officials reported Sunday, marking a significant increase from the 7,180 acres reported just a day earlier. Containment remains at 14% as firefighters battle challenging weather conditions.

The blaze, which began on June 8, is burning in the Chelan Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and on private land 31 miles northwest of Chelan. The number of personnel assigned to the fire has increased to 604, up from 558 reported Saturday.

Incident Commander Nate LeFevre of Northwest Incident Management Team 7 continues to oversee a full-suppression strategy. The fire's origin on private land and its suspected human cause remain factors in this aggressive approach.

High temperatures and low relative humidity have contributed to increased fire behavior on both the north and south flanks. Crews have focused on evaluating and strengthening structure protection in the Meadow Creek drainage to the north, while mopping up operations continue in the Prince Creek and Canoe Creek areas to the south.

"Structure protection efforts in this area were successful, with no additional structures lost," fire officials stated. Firefighters have also been deployed to Safety Harbor to improve structure protection measures.

The National Weather Service has extended an excessive heat warning well into next week, with potential record-breaking temperatures expected in Stehekin and Chelan. Fire managers anticipate increased fire behavior and potential spread under these conditions.

In response to the fire's growth, Chelan County has again raised evacuation levels. Residents are urged to check the county's official website for the latest evacuation information. The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest has implemented closures in much of the fire area.

Despite the closures, officials emphasize that the communities of Stehekin, Chelan, and Manson remain open and continue to welcome visitors. However, increased smoke is expected over the Chelan area, with air quality updates available online.

As the Pioneer Fire continues to challenge containment efforts, authorities stress the importance of public cooperation with evacuation orders and fire restrictions. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


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