Update 8:45 a.m. Wednesday
LEAVENWORTH — Crews on the Eagle Fire continue today to ramp down suppression efforts after a three-day push resulting in 95-percent containment of the blaze.
Advance of the 1,457-acre fire, located about 5 miles northeast of here, has been nearly halted on three flanks, said fire spokesman Rick Scriven, with a small amount of creeping still occurring on the wildfire’s northern edge.
A smattering of rain, cooler temperatures and higher humidity through last weekend helped crews get a jump on the fire, he said. That’s expected to continue for the next few days as temperatures hover in the low- to mid-80s and humidity increases slightly.
The number of firefighters on the blaze has been reduced to 367 from 457 on Tuesday, as hand crews and engines leave here for fire duties in Oregon and California. On Thursday, fire management will switch from the state’s Type II Interagency Management Team to mostly local fire officials.
Roadblocks on Eagle Creek and Bjork Canyon roads have been lifted, but fire officials still encourage residents-only use of roads due to heavy fire traffic. Homes on the two roads remain under Level 1 evacuation orders, a low-urgency warning that asks residents to remain aware of nearby fire danger.
Update 9:30 a.m. Tuesday
LEAVENWORTH — With houses out of danger and evacuation warnings reduced, fire crews began Monday to wrap-up suppression efforts on the Eagle Fire as they expand containment of the 1,457-acre blaze northeast of here.
This morning, the number of firefighters on the week-old wildfire had shrunk to 457 — about half the number from the peak of the firefighting effort last Thursday — while evacuation orders for all 60 homes in the area were relaxed Monday to Level 1, which advises residents to be aware of fire danger.
Official containment of the Eagle Fire stood at 60 percent, fire spokesman Jim Archambeault this morning, but that number was expected to rise when mapping of the scorched area is updated sometime today. Weekend rain showers and cooler temperatures helped crews bring the fire under control.
Roadblocks have been lifted, but Eagle Creek and Bjork Canyon roads remain closed to the general public due to heavy fire traffic. Today, classes began for the Cascade School District in Leavenworth and special arrangements were made to escort school buses up the canyons.
A backburn set Monday on the fire’s northwest edge was “very successful with much accomplished,” said Archambeault. The burnout cleared away grass, brush and other fuels through rough terrain from the western fire line at the head of Bjork Canyon to a ridgetop immediately east.
The state’s management of firefighting efforts with a Type II Incident Management Team is expected to end by Thursday, said Archambeault, when local fire officials will take over direction of crews.
Fire managers said Monday that the fire has damaged only one structure, a chicken coop used for storage between mileposts 3 and 4 on Eagle Creek Road.
The Eagle Fire, 5 miles northeast of Leavenworth, was first detected Aug. 19 and sent a thick plume of smoke from the steep hillsides and ridgetops where it burned in all directions above Eagle Creek. At the fire’s peak, homes up Eagle Creek and Bjork Canyon were issued Level 3 evacuation orders that urges residents to immediately leave the area.
Update 2 p.m. Monday
LEAVENWORTH — Fire officials at noon today relaxed evacuation orders to Level 1 for all residents on Eagle Creek and Bjork Canyon roads, two areas threatened for the last week by the Eagle Fire. Level 1 advises residents to be aware of nearby fire danger.
The public is urged, however, to stay clear of the area until all evacuation warnings have been removed, said Sgt. Kent Sisson of the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office. Fire traffic remains heavy on the two roads, located about 5 miles northeast of Leavenworth.
The 1,313-acre wildfire begain Aug. 19 and at its peak forced high-level evacuation orders (Level 3) for 31 of 60 homes in the area. Those warnings were reduced to Level 2 on Sunday and Level 1 today as fire crews continued to get the upper hand on the blaze.
Update 9 a.m. Monday
LEAVENWORTH — Crews on the Eagle Fire will attempt again today to back-burn grass and scattered timber on the blaze’s northwest edge near the head of Bjork Canyon.
The burnout, originally scheduled for Sunday, was postponed due to an unexpected rainfall of 0.02 inches, said spokeswoman Robin Demario. “It got too wet for a burnout to be at its most effective,” she said.
Now 60 percent contained, the 1,313-acre wildfire continues to burn in steep, rocky terrain about 5 miles northeast of Leavenworth above Eagle Creek Road. About 571 firefighters were on the blaze today, including 13 hand crews, five helicopters, three dozers, 10 tenders and 38 single engines. The fire was first spotted Aug 19.
This afternoon, observers may spot a thick column of smoke rising from the burnout, said DeMario. But conditons must be just right — no precipitation, light winds from the west or northwest — for the burnout to be set. Smoke could drift towards Cashmere and Wenatchee if the burnout takes place.
Homes in Bjork Canyon and above milepost 3 on Eagle Creek Road remain under Level 2 evacuation orders, which urge residents to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Level 2 warnings on Eagle Creek Road could be relaxed today. Homes and businesses below milepost 3 on Eagle Creek Road are at Level 1, the lowest order of urgency.
Roads in Bjork and Eagle Creek canyons remain closed to the general public because of fire hazards and heavy fire traffic. On Tuesday, classes begin for the Cascade School District in Leavenworth, so special arrangements have been made to escort school buses up the canyons, DeMario said.
Fire managers said today that the fire has damaged only one structure, a chicken coop located between mileposts 3 and 4 on Eagle Creek Road. The coop, used for storage, was tucked into brush and trees and went unnoticed for a week before homeowners told firefighters of the loss.
Also, said DeMario, injuries to firefighters have been minor — mostly pulled muscles and bee stings.
Update 2:30 p.m. Sunday
LEAVENWORTH — Fire crews continued to make good progress on the Eagle Fire Saturday. The 1,313-acre fire is now 60 percent contained. Crews plan to begin a burnout with aircraft and ground crew support early this week as soon as conditions permit, according to the latest information release from the fire’s Incident Management Team. Air support of the burnout north of Bjork Canyon will be visible from Leavenworth. Smoke from the burnout could impact Leavenworth and surrounding communities, said fire spokeswoman Robin DeMario.
Update 8 p.m. Saturday
LEAVENWORTH — Evacuation levels along Eagle Creek Road were lowered for a second consecutive day as firefighters continue containment of the Eagle Fire, burning north of Leavenworth. The 1,300-acre fire is now 50 percent contained.
Residents of about 30 homes under Level 3 evacuation were lowered to Level 2 Friday morning. Saturday morning, homes that were under Level 2 evacuation were dropped to Level 1, the lowest level of urgency. Level 2 evacuation remains in effect from mile post 3 to the end of Eagle Creek Road as well as for Bjork Canyon Road, said Sgt. Kent Sisson, emergency management head for the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office. The American Red Cross has closed its evacuation center at Icicle Middle School. A public meeting was held Friday night at Cascade High School for 38 residents wanting more information.
“It was very positive and upbeat,” said Robin DeMario, fire information officer for the U.S. Forest Service.
About 800 firefighters from across the nation under a Washington incident command management are on the fire, including 16 hand crews, 7 helicopters and several bulldozers, said DeMario. Hand crews are completing containment lines along Eagle Creek Road on the south side of the fire, as well as on east and west perimeters. Mop-up to remove threats close to the perimeter is underway. If things continue to go well, full containment is expected by Aug. 31, according to the fire command team. The cause of the fire, which started Monday, is still under investigation.