Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Pioneer Fire growth slows, firefighters establish new containment lines

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CHELAN — The Pioneer Fire, burning in the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Area, has shown minimal growth in the past 24 hours, increasing by only 63 acres to a total of 4,157 acres as of Friday, June 21, fire officials reported.

Incident Commander Brian Gales said the fire is burning most actively in the Cascade Creek area at the northern end of the fire footprint and backing down the north side of Prince Creek. The blaze, which started on June 8, is located 31 miles northeast of Chelan.

Firefighters are establishing a new indirect containment line from the Fish Creek trail up a ridge, aiming to tie into a natural rock feature near Moore Mountain. This strategy is designed to prevent the fire from spreading further north towards the North Cascades National Park boundary.

Structure protection efforts have progressed to Flick Creek and are continuing northward toward Stehekin. Fire personnel are updating protection plans for Stehekin and implementing contingency measures around dwellings, structures, and critical infrastructure in the community.

Crews are patrolling around structures in Pioneer Creek, while additional teams in Prince Creek and Canoe Creek are preparing for potential tactical firing operations.

Heavy equipment and hand crews are establishing an indirect fire line down Coyote Ridge to the lakeshore. A second indirect line is being scouted from Nelson Butte to the lakeshore just east of Safety Harbor Creek.

Road improvements on Grade Creek Road have reached mile marker 20.5, with brushing completed up to mile marker 15. These enhancements aim to provide safe access for fire vehicles approaching from the southeast if necessary.

Aviation resources conducted reconnaissance flights on Thursday, delivering over 7,000 pounds of cargo and 5,224 gallons of water for strategic drops. New helispots are being established at Stehekin and Twenty Five Mile Creek to improve efficiency.

Evacuation levels remain unchanged since June 16. 

The cause of the Pioneer Fire remains under investigation, though officials have confirmed it was human-caused.

Despite ongoing firefighting efforts, local communities including Stehekin, Chelan, and Manson remain open and continue to welcome visitors.

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