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Crews quickly corral new fire north of Leavenworth

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Update, 2:15 p.m. Friday: Fire crews and resources assigned to the Chiwaukum Complex quickly jumped on a new fire reported in the Merry Canyon/Railroad Canyon area north of Leavenworth.

Dozers, a 20-person Hot Shot crew, a 20-person handline crew and three helicopters responded, according to Chiwaukum fire spokesman Nick Mickel. A line was built around the fire and it was contained to one acre. Helicopters were still dousing flames.

We’re here, we’re ready and we jumped on it,” he said of all the fire resources working on the larger Chiwaukum, Duncan and Hansel fires.

Mickel said the fire was caused by logging operations. A dispatcher for the Central Washington Interagency Communications Center said an investigator has been called in.

Also, the evacuation advisories in place for the Upper Falls Fire north of Winthrop have been increased to Level 2 from the junction of East and West Chewuck River Roads  to the national forest boundary. The fire is still several miles from homes, but the increased evacuation level will prevent non-residents from driving into the area and causing traffic problems for fire vehicles, fire officials said.

The national forest is currently closed to the public in that area, including access to the Breviconus summer homes.


NCW — It’s been one month since the Mills Canyon Fire raced across the landscape between Entiat and Wenatchee, kicking off a continuous string of lightning and human-caused fires that have threatened several communities, forced thousands of evacuations and burned more than 500 homes and other structures.

The immediate threat from fires has subsided for now, but at least 400 homes remain under various levels of evacuation in Chelan and Okanogan counties, primarily as a precaution.

None of the fires burning in the two counties made any significant runs on Thursday, and most continued to grow away from homes. New national-level fire management teams will be taking over the Chiwaukum Complex and the Carlton Complex over the next few days.

Some 1,300 firefighters are still working on the 256,000-acre Carlton fire, though it is fully lined and in mop-up and patrol status.

There’s an awful lot of work left with a fire that big,” said fire spokesman Steve Till. “We’re pulling in equipment and cleaning up lines and patrolling and monitoring for smoke. As the chief said this morning, we spent an awful lot of money on this thing (so) we’re not going to lose our vigilance and let it get away from us now.”

The fire is still actively burning within fire lines at its far northeastern edge, in an area previously burned by the Tripod Fire.

The Chiwaukum, Duncan and Hansel fires in Chelan County all spread on Thursday into remote, inaccessible areas. The Duncan Fire in the Entiat Valley is moving into an area burned by the 2004 Deep Harbor Fire, which is expected to significantly slow its movement, said fire spokesman Rick Acosta. The fire also reached the Entiat River Road far up the valley near Spruce Creek. The Hansel Fire near Blewett Pass continued to push uphill toward the wilderness boundary. Crews hope to stop it with bulldozer lines and Ingalls Creek Road.

A fire spokesman for the Little Bridge Creek Fire west of Twisp could not be reached for an update.

Several other NCW fires are being monitored.

Though it is fully contained, the month-old Mills Canyon Fire is still being patrolled daily by ground and air.

Reach Michelle McNiel at 509-664-7152 or . Follow her on Twitter at @MichelMcNielWW.