Okanogan County Fire Grows; Inslee Declares Emergency Exactly 5 Years After Twisp Firefighters Killed
-Red Cross Contact: 509-670-5331
BY COURTNEY FLATT & SCOTT LEADINGHAM
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide emergency Wednesday to help with fires burning on the Olympic Peninsula and in central and eastern Washington.
A fire in Okanogan County is quickly burning through grass, sagebrush and timber, forcing evacuations. What’s been dubbed the Palmer Fire is burning southwest of Oroville, near Washburn Lake.
Winds pushed the fire in all directions Tuesday afternoon. As of Wednesday morning, it had burned around 5,000 acres and is threatening at least 86 homes. As the fast-burning fire grows, hot and dry conditions are stretching firefighting resources.
— NWS Spokane (@NWSSpokane) August 19, 2020
The Red Cross is offering shelter to anyone who has had to evacuate. Farm animals can be taken to the Tonasket Rodeo grounds. Anyone needing Red Cross assistance can call 509-670-5331.
A local group on Facebook, Okanogan Highlands Fire Watch, is also coordinating information and resources for affected residents.
The governor’s emergency declaration will allow the Washington National Guard to help fight fires across the state.
The cause of the Palmer Fire is still under investigation. A separate blaze across the border in nearby Penticton, British Columbia, the Christie Mountain Fire, was also putting up large plumes of smoke Tuesday and Wednesday.
Firefighters are working to save property and people on the fifth anniversary of the Twisp River Fire, part of the larger Okanogan County Complex. On Aug. 19, 2015, Richard Wheeler, Andrew Zajac, and Tom Zbyszewski died as they began fighting the flames near Twisp. A fourth member of the crew, Daniel Lyon, Jr., was severely burned.
“Wildfires are threatening the safety and livelihoods of Washingtonians all across the state,” Inslee said in a statement Wednesday. “And the COVID-19 pandemic has put additional strain on our resources, as some of our usual support is further limited due to international movement restrictions.”
Northwest fire managers say crews are stretched thin. Extreme temperatures combined with many more people heading outside make the situation even more complicated.
Autumn has knocked on our doors and crossed our thresholds. With its arrival comes wetter, colder, darker days — perhaps some pumpkin-flavored treats as well — and hopefully, fewer wildfires. Heavy recent rainfall has dropped the wildfire potential outlook down to normal for the Northwest, according to the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook.
So, how did this summer fare compared to past fire seasons? Continue Reading What impacts did wildfires have on the Northwest this summer?
La autopista estatal 20 había sido cerrada entre Newhalem y Rainy Pass, en el condado de Whatcom, ya que es el principal punto de acceso para los bomberos que trabajan en el incendio de Sourdough. Continue Reading HWY 20 parcialmente reabierta: Bomberos trabajan activamente en la zona del incendio de Sourdough
Scenic State Route 20 which runs through North Cascades National Park is now reopened.
The highway had been closed between Newhalem and Rainy Pass in Whatcom County, as it is the main access point for firefighters working the Sourdough Fire. Mark Enty, public information officer with Northwest Incident Management Team 10, said crews are still working in the area and drivers should be extra cautious.
Continue Reading Part of HWY 20 reopened, firefighters still actively working in area as Sourdough Fire burns