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Single team to manage Chelan County wildfires

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The Chiwaukum Creek and Mills Canyon fires have been combined with the smaller Kelly Mountain Fire, northwest of Entiat, to become the Mills Canyon Complex, which is in the process of becoming managed by a single team.

ENTIAT — Fire officials today are moving towards forming a single management team based in Leavenworth to fight Chelan County’s three big wildfires.

The Mills Canyon Complex will include the Mills Canyon Fire near Entiat, now at 22,571 acres; the Chiwaukum Creek Fire in the Leavenworth area, 6,630 acres; and the Kelly Mountain Fire northwest of Entiat, between 60 and 80 acres.

The combined management team will likely set up headquarters in Leavenworth by Saturday, said fire spokesman Bob MacGregor. Smaller strike camps at the Fish Lake air strip near the Chiwaukum Creek Fire and Entiat School District grounds near the Mills Canyon Fire could also be maintained.

Relocation of the fire management team comes as the Mills Canyon Fire remains fairly stable and the Chiwaukum blaze grows, said MacGregor.

The size of the Mills Canyon Fire has held steady for the last 36 hours with 40 percent containment, MacGregor said. Crews are battling growth on the fire’s west flank and strengthening lines on its north and east perimeters.

Level 1 evacuation notices asking residents to be alert of fire danger remain in effect on Entiat River Road. Level 2 notices, which urge residents to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, remain posted for some homes in Swakane Canyon on the fire’s southern perimenter.

MacGregor said ground crews on all three blazes are being supported by “big time aerial resources” — nine water-hauling helicopters, six of which carry 1,500 gallons with each haul.

The Kelly Mountain Fire has forced closure of the Entiat River Road at the Fox Creek Campground, located at milepost 27. Eight smokejumpers are fighting the blaze, now burning in steep terrain.


Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business. follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.