Correction: The number of elk were underreported in the original version of this story. The error has been corrected in this version.
MALAGA — The Colockum Tarps Fire didn’t grow much today, but with plenty left to burn and tricky winds and thunder storms in the forecast, that could change in a hurry.
“There is a huge amount of fire left out there. With the winds associated with some of the weather systems expected in the next few days, we don’t know what it might deal us,” Mike Asher, the fire’s operations chief said late Monday after a community meeting in Malaga.
A Level 3 — the highest — evacuation notice remains in place for the approximately 65 homes along Tarpiscan, Colockum Pass and Kingsbury roads, but may be reduced or lifted Tuesday morning, officials said.
About 60 people, including state and local fire officials, emergency crews, members of the public and media filled the Malaga fire station for the meeting.
Officials said the fire is well contained along its northern flank at about Colockum Pass Road and to the east along the Columbia River.
Potential for the fire to grow is greatest to the west and south, officials said.
The fire’s western flank approaches a series of timbered drainages. Crews hope to hold the fire there with the help of a large, clear-cut transmission line corridor.
The fire’s southern flank now approaches Little Brushy Creek with dry scrub and grass lands beyond.
Winds from the east, forecast Wednesday, could push the fire across the western timbered ridge. Erratic winds could accompany thunder storms forecast Thursday, officials said.
“If the fire gets into that timber, we can’t stop in with the present conditions,” Asher said.
The southern flank is still at least 8 miles from Quilomene Ridge and the Wild Horse wind farm farther south. No major structures appear to be threatened between the wind farm and the fire’s southern flank, officials said. In the Colockum area, the fire burned five homes and many outbuildings.
The fire was reported around 8 a.m. Saturday. Its cause is still under investigation.
A Type 3 incident-management team took over Saturday evening from approximately 100 local firefighters — 90 percent of them volunteers — who battled the fast-moving wildland fire during its first 16 hours, officials said.
Chelan PUD crews worked as safety permitted during fire and throughout the night Sunday to repair about a dozen burned or downed power poles. They restored power to homes able to receive it by about 10:30 a.m. Monday.
Pete Lopushinsky, Colockum Wildlife Area Manager, said about 100,000 acres of prime winter range area for a resident herd of about 5,500 elk are threatened if the fire moves farther south.
Flames blackened the surround scrub to within a few feet of the wildlife area’s caretaker home that Lopushinsky and his wife Tami occupy during the week. Their private home, about 12 miles away up Colockum Creek is in a wooded area still in the fire’s path.
The Apple Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross will keep its shelter open at the Seventh-day Adventist Church at Fifth Street and Western Avenue in Wenatchee. The shelter housed four people for one night over the weekend and will supply hot meals and beds to displaced residents displaced from their homes.