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Evacuation advisories expand in Entiat Valley

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U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert met with fire officials managing the Chiwaukum Complex of fires burning in Chelan County on Monday.

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Updated, 6:50 a.m. Wednesday:  Evacuation advisories in the Entiat Valley expanded Tuesday night as the Duncan Fire continued to grow. Residents along Entiat River Road from Brief to the national forest boundary are now under Level 2 — be prepared to leave. Homes from mile 18 to Brief are under a Level 1 advisory.

Update, 7 p.m. Tuesday: High winds forecast for Tuesday afternoon failed to materialize, keeping most fires in place and allowing firefighters to continue fireline containment and aerial attacks.

The Hansel Fire continued to creep down a ridge between Ingalls Creek and Hansel Creek in the Blewett Pass corridor. Homes on Ingalls Creek Road are on highest evacuation orders. Valley Hi residences, slightly to the north, are on Level 2 evacuation notice. Several residents in the area were loading their pickup trucks and leaving today, said Bob MacGregor, Chiwaukum Fire Complex spokesman.

Five helicopters were dipping water from Ingalls Creek on the fire today. Some firefighters were taken off the 4,412-acre Duncan Fire burning near the Cottonwood Guard Station in the Entiat Valley today to work on the Hansel Fire because of its proximity to homes, he said.

Lack of strong winds also helped firefighters make progress on the fires in the Carlton Complex near Winthrop, said spokesman Brian Scott.

The Rising Eagle Fire that burned 36 structures including 10 homes Saturday is now 100 percent contained. The Carlton Fire Complex is 90 percent contained, said Scott. There are several new fires going, including the Little Bridge Fire, west of Twisp, and the Upper Falls Fire, southwest of Mt. Barney near the Pasayten Wilderness.

Update, 2 p.m. Tuesday: Some of the new lightning fires that are springing up across North Central Washington are starting to get names and resources assigned to them. Here are some of the new ones keeping firefighters busy on Tuesday:

• Shoofly, nine miles north of Stevens Pass Ski Area and just north of Heather Lake, about 50 acres.

• Minotaur, west of Lake Wenatchee near Minotaur Lake, one-tenth of an acre.

• Grindstone, near the end of the Icicle River drainage, one-quarter to one-half acre.

• Upper Falls Creek, Chewuch River drainage 20 miles northwest of Winthrop, 100 acres.

• Little Burgett, also in the Chewuch drainage 16 miles northwest of Winthrop, about three acres.

• Goat Peak, Cub Pass and West Fawn fires, all burning in the Methow Valley Ranger District, are each less than an acre.

Several fires burning on the Colville Indian Reservation have been combined into the Devil’s Elbow Complex. They include: Deadhorse (200 acres), Central Peak (150 to 200 acres) and Cub Creek (1-2 acres), all burning in the San Poil River Valley north of Keller. About two dozen homes are under evacuation advisories; and Timm Brothers Ranch, burned about 500 acres near the Columbia River about 20 miles north of Nespelem


NCW —  Firefighters are preparing for a challenging day with gusty winds expected to push a wildfire closer to about 135 homes along the Blewett Pass corridor and to fan fires burning in the Entiat River and Twisp River valleys.

The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning for extreme fire conditions Tuesday afternoon and evening. The combination of dry conditions, low humidity and gusty winds could cause fires to grow rapidly.

The Hansel Fire has the potential for big growth because it is in heavy fuels on really difficult topography,” fire spokesman Bob MacGregor said of the 60-acre blaze about eight miles south of Peshastin west of Highway 97.

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office was issuing Level 3 — get out now — evacuations for residents along Hansel Creek, Ingalls Creek and Pine Ridge roads this morning. The advisory for the rural community of Valley Hi has been raised from Level 1 to Level 2 (be prepared to leave). The fire was about a half mile from homes on Monday night but was expected to move closer today.

Hikers were also cleared out off the Ingalls Creek Trail.

About 80 firefighters were pulled off the fire on Monday because burning material was rolling down the hillside behind them, MacGregor said. Planes and helicopters dropped retardant and water on the blaze and will continue that work today. Lightning started the fire on Saturday.

As firefighters work to corral five large fires in North Central Washington, they are also keeping an eye on four small lighting-caused fires burning in remote areas. Two are west of Lake Wenatchee, one is at the head of the Icicle River drainage and one is about 20 miles north of Winthrop in the Pasayten Wilderness.

In other fire developments:

Duncan (Entiat Valley): Fire blew up Monday afternoon and crossed the north fork of the Entiat River, prompting firefighters to be pulled out. It is currently burning up Pope Ridge to the southeast.

Because resources have been diverted to the Hansel Fire, the 3,761-acre blaze is expected to grow Tuesday.

Little Bridge Creek (west of Twisp): Fire put up a large column Monday as it burned in steep, inaccessible terrain. The last estimate was 150 acres, but is likely much bigger, said fire spokesman Chuck Turley.

Only the highest level firefighters and aircraft can be used to fight the fire because of the topography, but none are available, he said. So fire officials are looking at creating fire breaks far away from it.

The fire is expected to grow to the north and northeast, away from homes in the Twisp River drainage.

Carlton Complex (Okanogan County): The largest fire in state history is now 90 percent contained and holding at around 255,000 acres.

We’re in a mop-up and patrol status through the majority of the fire area,” said fire spokesman Andy Lyon.

Crews were able to complete a line at the far northern edge of the fire on Monday, where the fire is still actively burning.

There are still some 1,650 fire personnel staying at camps near Winthrop, Alta Lake and Okanogan.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Doc Hastings toured the fire area on Monday and visited with people who lost homes.

Chiwaukum Creek (northwest of Leavenworth): Fire grew about 200 acres on Monday as it continues to “creep and smoulder” near the Alpine Lakes Wilderness boundary, MacGregor said. The blaze has burned 13,189 acres and is about 35 percent contained.

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert visited with fire officials in Leavenworth on Monday.

Rising Eagle (south of Winthrop): Fully contained on Monday.

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