Updated, 8:50 a.m. Friday: ENTIAT — Driven by wind gusts of up to 40 mph and burning in heavy timber, the Cougar Creek Fire northwest of Entiat grew by more than 2,000 acres Thursday.
It's now estimated at 3,614 acres and 0 percent contained. Gusts of up to 30 mph are expected Friday.
Three helicopters will be making water drops on Friday and a crews will work to establish containment lines and protect structures, according to Northwest Interagency Incident Management Team 11. Approximately 426 personnel are assigned to the fire.
Evacuation levels haven't changed since Thursday evening.
A Type 1 incident management team will assume command of fire operations on Saturday.
Updated, 5:20 p.m. Thursday: ENTIAT — Chelan County Emergency Management began issuing Level 3 evacuations (get out now) around 5 p.m. to residents along Entiat River Road from Potato Creek to milepost 25 — the end of the county road.
Authorities received reports of significant fire spotting sometime after 4:30 p.m. Thursday, said Rich Magnussen with Emergency Management.
"It's actually spotting up ahead of itself," Magnussen said, speaking from the Entiat area. He added, "The wind's really blowing up here."
There are about 100 homes in the evacuation area, though many are vacation homes and not currently occupied by residents, he said.
Mad River to Potato Creek remains at Level 2 (be set to leave). Magnussen noted that the Level 3 area may be adjusted Thursday night.
A Red Cross shelter is expected to be opened at 7 p.m. at Warehouse Community Church, 14916 Highway 97/A in Entiat. Evacuees who need a place to store an RV or trailer can Stucco by Alex, located at the north end of Entiat. Call 421-7999.
Updated, 10:15 a.m. Thursday: ENTIAT — The Cougar Creek Fire northwest of Entiat has grown to 1,559 acres, fire officials say, up from 803 on Wednesday. It remains 0 percent contained.
“It grew about two miles in the south, southeast direction,” said Sonya Capek, a public information officer assigned to the fire. On Thursday, “It’s expected, once the winds pick up, to grow another couple miles in the same direction, but also kick around the rest of the perimeter about a half mile.”
Level 2 evacuations (be set to leave) are in effect from Mad River Road to Entiat River Road milepost 24 on both sides of the roadway.
Approximately 321 fire personnel are working to the fire. No air resources are currently dropping water or retardant on the blaze due to poor visibility caused by a billowing column of smoke, Capek said. She added that water drops might not even be effective at this point.
There’s been some fire spotting, but nothing significant, Capek said. They expect more spotting today and have firefighters ready to respond, if need be.
ENTIAT — The Cougar Creek Fire 20 miles northwest of Entiat is estimated at 803 acres and 0 percent contained.
Chelan County Emergency Management issued Level 2 evacuation notices (be set to leave) at 3 p.m. Wednesday to homes from Mad River Road to Entiat River Road milepost 24 on both sides of the roadway.
The fire is burning in heavy timber, creating a thick column of smoke visible for miles, according to a news release from the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. It was caused by lightning strikes on Saturday.
Towering plumes of smoke add an extra layer of danger to wildfires, said Adam Solt, a spokesman for Northwest Interagency Incident Management Team 11.
He explained the columns are the product of large amounts of heat, like rush of steam that comes when you pull the lid off a boiling pot. They also have the potential to spot and create new fires.
About 295 personnel are assigned to the fire.
Thursday is expected to bring hot, breezy conditions to the Entiat area with highs near 89 and gusts up to 29 mph in the evening, according to the National Weather Service in Spokane.
Several Forest Service roads are closed: Forest Service Road No. 6101 is from Deer Camp to Maverick Saddle; Forest Service Road No. 5200 from French Corral To Maverick Saddle; Alder Ridge Trail No. 1523 above the Faultline Road No. 6104 (where the seasonal closure begins; and Chikamin Tie Trail No. 1561.1 above Forest Service Road No. 6210.
Within the Entiat Ranger District, the Upper Mad River Trail System and Tommy Creek Trail are also closed.
Northwest Interagency Incident Management Team 11 assumed command of fire operations on Tuesday. The team is also managing the Chelan Hills Fire (97 percent contained as of Wednesday) and is supporting crews fighting a brush fire on Navarre Coulee Road near Chelan.
Solt said the Navarre Coulee fire was estimated at 50 to 75 acres Wednesday morning. It was reported about 8:40 p.m. Tuesday near a home, said Rich Magnussen with Emergency Management. Seventeen homes were ordered to evacuate immediately. Those orders were reduced Wednesday afternoon.