LEAVENWORTH — The Chiwaukum Creek Fire continues to burn ever so slowly down Tumwater Canyon toward Icicle Ridge and Leavenworth.
The southern edge of the fire crept about 0.2 of a mile, but is still about six miles north of Leavenworth, said fire spokesman Rick Acosta. The fire is burning in mixed timber, brush and previously burned timber on very steep terrain west of Highway 2, which is still closed between Leavenworth and Coles Corner. Highway 2 and Leavenworth can be accessed by detour through Plain and the Chumstick Highway.
“The problem is that there is no continuous rocky ridge that can act as a containment line,” Acosta said. That has proved to be a problem during the Hatchery Creek Fire in 1994 and the Icicle Complex Fires in 2001 in the same area. The fire is about 10 percent contained, he said, with dozer lines and existing roads providing barriers north of Tumwater Campground.
Fire is active in some heavy timber near Thomson Creek, south of Winton. Firecrews have been pruning brush and ladder fuels close to the ground to slow the fire. They plan to backburn in the area today to keep flames from spreading into more deep forest and keep the fire’s intensity low, Acosta said.
“We want to dictate the fire’s behavior rather than have it dictate us,” he said. The few homes along the Highway 2 corridor have been evacuated. There have been no new evacuations nor have there been any structures lost from the fire.
Light winds, measurable rainfall and increased humidity expected Tuesday and Wednesday should help slow the fire, but it’s still early in the fire season, Acosta warned. The forest area will dry out quickly, and unlike a grass fire, the fire will start up again in a few days, he said.
The Chiwaukum Complex is made up of three fires. The Chiwaukum Fire is estimated at 10,435 acres. The Kelly Mountain Fire is 120 acres. The Duncan Fire is burning on 889 acres. The Kelly and Duncan fires are located far up the Entiat River Valley.
The Mills Canyon Fire, between Entiat and Swakane Canyon, is now 75 percent contained and holding steady at 22,571 acres. There are about 900 firefighters assigned to the four Chelan County fires.