Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Pioneer Fire grows to 7,180 acres


CHELAN — The Pioneer Fire northeast of Chelan has expanded to 7,180 acres, with containment remaining at 14%, fire officials reported Saturday. The blaze, which began on June 8, continues to challenge the 558 firefighters battling it under extreme weather conditions.

Incident Commander Nate LeFevre of Northwest Incident Management Team 7 is overseeing the full-suppression strategy to protect private property, public infrastructure, and natural resources. The fire's origin on private land and its suspected human cause are factors in this aggressive approach.

On Friday, high temperatures and low humidity intensified fire behavior, particularly on the north side near Meadow Creek and the south side near Prince Creek. The fire made a significant run along Lake Chelan to Lone Fir Creek and upslope into nearby drainages.

Ground crews are using pre-established water systems along the lakeshore to protect private structures and recreation resources. So far, structure protection efforts have been successful, with no additional buildings lost.

Fire managers have redirected resources to the active south flank in response to the increased fire activity. Crews are also strengthening fire lines near Stehekin, improving defenses along Nelson Butte and Coyote Ridge, and continuing mastication work along Gold Creek Road.

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning extending well into next week, along with a red flag warning for Saturday. These conditions are expected to further challenge firefighting efforts and increase the potential for fire spread.

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, though officials stress that the communities of Stehekin, Chelan, and Manson remain open and continue to welcome visitors.

Fire managers expect increased smoke over the Chelan area, with air quality updates available online. The public is advised to stay informed through official channels and prepare for potential further evacuations as the situation develops.


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