Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Pioneer Fire remains at 9,055 Acres, red flag warning issued


CHELAN — The Pioneer Fire northwest of Chelan held steady at 9,055 acres on Monday, with containment remaining at 14% as firefighters brace for challenging weather conditions in the coming days.

Management of the blaze, which began on June 8, transitioned to Northwest Complex Incident Management Team 12 early Monday morning. Jeff Dimke has taken over as Incident Commander, with Bob Shindelar serving as Deputy Incident Commander.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for Monday and Tuesday, signaling a heightened risk of fire danger. Officials anticipate potential record-breaking temperatures mid-week, which could lead to increased fire activity and spread.

"Additional crews, engines, and aviation assets are being ordered for the fire as critical fire weather continues through this week," fire officials stated. Two CL-215 "scooper" aircraft have been assigned to the fire, supplementing multiple helicopters already in use for water drops.

Firefighters have been assessing additional structure protection needs down lake of the fire area. Crews have also prepared firelines along Nelson Butte with pumps, hose lays, and water-handling equipment. A small spot fire west of Goat Mountain was contained by aerial resources.

On the north end of Lake Chelan, crews have bolstered protection around lakefront structures and into Stehekin. Officials stress that the communities of Stehekin, Chelan, and Manson remain open to visitors despite the ongoing firefighting efforts.

Chelan County has increased evacuation levels due to the fire's behavior. 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 many recreation sites remain accessible.

Smoke from the fire is expected to impact the Chelan area. Authorities advise residents and visitors to monitor air quality updates available online.

The cause of the Pioneer Fire, which is burning primarily on the Chelan Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and on private land, remains under investigation but is suspected to be human-caused.

As firefighters continue their full-suppression strategy, the public is reminded to adhere to all evacuation orders and fire restrictions in place.


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