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Fire near Entiat grows to 5,000 acres; evacuations grow

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This is the general location of a fire reported Tuesday in Mills Canyon, a few miles west of the Columbia River up the Entiat River Valley.

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6:30 p.m. update

Entiat — A fast moving brush fire that started before noon in Mills Canyon has now grown to more than 5,000 acres.

An air tanker and two helicopters will continue dumping water on the fire until dark tonight, said Mick Mueller, Forest Service spokesman. More than 250 firefighters are also fighting the fire from the ground.

A Type 2 state fire team is due in tonight to take over command of the fire at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Mueller said.

Our concern is a possible red flag day tomorrow with strong winds that could drive the fire,” he said.

The National Weather Service has posted a red flag warning for Wednesday evening. Temperatures will be slightly cooler Wednesday — a high of 97 degrees is forecast — but west winds are expected to blow between 15 to 30 mph throughout the afternoon and evening. A red flag warning advises local residents and agencies of extreme fire danger weather conditions.

Level 3 evacuation — the most urgent — is in effect for residents of Mills Canyon and Dinkleman Canyon. Residents along Entiat River Road to Dinkleman Canyon Road is on Level 2. The upper length of Entiat River Road, Swakane Canyon Road and along Highway  97A between Swakane Canyon, Sherman Canyon and Entiat River Road are on Level 1 notice, meaning residents should be ready to leave on short notice.

An emergency shelter has opened at Entiat High School for those who have been forced from their homes.

Swakane Canyon Road, Mills Canyon Road and Entiat River Road at mile post 1.5 are now closed to traffic.

The fire is believed to have started after a residential structure fire on Mills Canyon Road. No other structures have been lost.

 

3:30 p.m. update

ENTIAT — Wildfire burning through fine grass, sagebrush and scattered timber near Entiat has increased in size to more than 2,000 acres in just a few hours since starting late this morning.

One air tanker is now on the fire, along with two helicopters, 15 engines and 250 firefighters, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Mick Mueller at 3:15 p.m.

The fire is burning on steep terrain through Mills Canyon, about four miles up the Entiat River Road from Entiat. Forest Service Road 5200 follows the Mills Canyon drainage south and east towards Swakane Canyon and Chumstick Mountain.

Level 3 evacuation — the most urgent — is in effect for residents of Mills Canyon and Dinkleman Canyon. Residents along Entiat River Road to Dinkleman Canyon Road is on Level 2. The upper length of Entiat River Road, Swakane Canyon Road and along Highway  97A between Swakane Canyon, Sherman Canyon and Entiat River Road are on Level 1 notice, meaning residents should be ready to leave on short notice.

An emergency shelter has opened at Entiat High School for those who have been forced from their homes.

Mills Canyon Road and Entiat River Road at mile post 1.5 are now closed to traffic.

Mueller said he hasn’t heard of any structures lost in the fire, although it may have started with a structure fire. There are only a few homes at the mouth of both Mills Canyon and Dinkleman Canyon, he said. Of greater concern, he said, is that the fire could back down the hills as evening winds come up and temperatures cool towards the Entiat River Valley.

ENTIAT — Helicopters, fire vehicles and ground crews are heading to a wildfire that has quickly spread to at least five acres in Mills Canyon, about two miles west of Entiat off the Entiat River Road.

Chelan County Emergency Management reported shortly after noon Tuesday that officials were heading to the fire area and some evacuations along Mills Canyon are likely. Traffic will be stopped 1.5 miles up Entiat River Road.

The smoke plume from the fire is visible from much of the Wenatchee Valley.

Here are the latest updates from Emergency Management’s Facebook page:

  • Mills Canyon Rd is LEVEL 3 Entiat River Rd is at Level 1…they are only letting residents through on the Entiat River Road starting at MP 1.5…..please stay out of the area so the fire crews can be safer.
  • If you are not a resident on the Entiat River Road, with valid ID indicating that is where you live, you will be stopped at MP 1.5 on the Entiat River Road.
  • Evacuation notices from MP 1.5 on the Entiat River Rd to Dinkleman is now LEVEL 2, Dinkleman and Mills Canyon are Level 3.
  • LEVEL 1 evacuation notices will be given on Swakane and Spencer Canyon, and on US 971 from Swakane Canyon to the Entiat River Rd. Fire is 200 acres and growing……
  • A shelter for evacuees is being set up at Entiat High School.

Here’s a news release from the U.S. Forest Service

215 Melody Lane

Wenatchee, WA 98801

Date: July 8, 2014 – 1:30 p.m.

Mills Canyon Fire Update

Entiat—The Mills Canyon Fire, located approximately four miles west of Entiat, is now estimated to be 500 acres.  Firefighters from Washington Department of Natural Resources, Chelan County Fire Districts and U.S. Forest Service are responding. 

An Evacuation Level 3 is in effect for Mills Canyon and an Evacuation Level 1 from milepost 1.5 on the Entiat River Road for its entirety has been issued by the Chelan County Sheriff’s Department.

An air tanker from Moses Lake, a heavy helicopter and a medium helicopter have been dispatched to the fire to assist ground resources now responding to the fire.

The fire started Tuesday afternoon around 12:20 and is burning in grass and brush in very steep terrain.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.

 

Reach Rick Steigmeyer at 509-664-7151 or . Read his blog Winemaker's Journal or follow him on Twitter at @steigmeyerww.

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