Update, 8:15 a.m. Tuesday: The fire is now 90% contained, with 165 people assigned to it, according to the incident website.
Update, 6:30 p.m. Monday: A week after it tore through 350 square miles of Douglas County, the Pearl Hill Fire is nearing full containment.
The 223,730-acre fire was 87% contained by Monday morning, Northeast Incident Management Team 6 said in a news release. Twenty-six homes and commercial buildings burned in the fire, up from an estimate last week of 20.
Officials are continuing to assess fire damage.
The fire originated about 9:45 p.m. Sept. 6 in Omak before jumping the Columbia River into Bridgeport six hours later.
Authorities then treated them as separate fires: the Cold Springs Fire in Okanogan County, and the Pearl Hill Fire in Douglas County.
Driven by 40 to 50 mph wind gusts, the Pearl Hill Fire raced south 30 miles to Highway 2 at a pace of 10,000 acres per hour, fire behavior analyst Katie Hetts said Friday at a fire information meeting.
Not long after reaching the highway, where crews were able to hold the fire from spreading farther south, winds shifted directions and pushed the fire to the west, said meteorologist Steve Bodner at the meeting.
Only a few hours after the meeting concluded, the fire flared up in Whitley Canyon near Bridgeport Bar and destroyed a structure. Fire managers had planned to conduct a controlled burn in the same area on Saturday.
Dense smoke from West Coast wildfires provided cool temperatures and low humidity on the fire, which aided efforts over the weekend to contain the fire, the team said.
Approximately 315 firefighters were attached to the Pearl Hill Fire on Monday, but managers have begun to release or reassign some to other fires, the team said.
Areas north of Highway 2 and in McNeil Canyon remain under Level 2 evacuations — be ready to leave. Highway 173, Bridgeport Hill Road and Crane Orchard Road have been reopened.
Updated 3:45 p.m. Saturday: At least one structure was lost after the Pearl Hill Fire flared up Friday night in Whitley Canyon.
The fire was reignited and pushed by a wind from the southeast in the Bridgeport Bar area toward the town of Brewster, said Wayne Patterson, Pearl Hill Fire Incident Command spokesman. The fire started at about 20 acres, but was pushed into Whitley Canyon by the wind and grew to about 200 acres.
Luckily, fire crews had already spent time putting in dozer lines in that area, Patterson said. They planned to aerially ignite the area on Saturday to reduce the amount of fuel.
Crews were able to push the fire into dozer lines and contain it, according to the Incident Information System website.
“So we put in some short lines where we tried to just get ahead and in front and slow down that fire a little bit and keep it from burning too hot, which it did,” Patterson said.
Crews are getting the fire more and more contained each day, Patterson said. Everything east of Bridgeport Hill Road and Road B has gone from an evacuation Level 3 to a Level 2, he said.
The only homes that are still in an evacuation Level 3 are those from Bridgeport Hill Road west to the Columbia River, Patterson said.
The Pearl Hill Fire is now 64% contained and has burned 219,956 acres, according to the Incident Information System website. The Apple Acres fire north of Chelan is 93% contained and has burned 5,736 acres.
Updated 10:45 p.m. Friday: A spot fire is threatening structures in Bridgeport Bar.
The Pearl Hill Fire is actively burning across the Columbia River from Brewster as winds have pushed the 220,000-acre fire westward, according to the Northeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team.
The fire is highly visible from Brewster and structures may be involved, the team said on InciWeb.
Highway 173 and Crane Orchard Road near the Brewster Bridge are closed and power is out for some residents in the lower Bridgeport Bar area.
The flare-up comes as crews have increased containment on the fire's perimeter. Early Friday evening, containment was estimated at 50%, but late Friday evening it was estimated at 64% by the team.
Updated 9:30 p.m. Friday: Citing increased fire activity, all of Highway 173 and Crane Orchard Road near the Brewster Bridge are closed, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
Residents and motorists are asked to avoid the area.
Power is out for some residents in the lower Bridgeport Bar, according to the Douglas County PUD.
Update 6:30 p.m. Friday: The Pearl Hill Fire is currently estimated 219,956 acres and 50% contained.
Crews this weekend will work to stop growth near Bridgeport Bar, which was described as a problem area on the fire by officials with Northeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team at a public meeting Friday.
Crews will use "ping pong ball" shaped incendiary devices to begin a controlled burn on steep slopes in the area. The operation will be visible from Brewster across the Columbia River.
Steve Bodner, a meteorologist with the team, said extended forecasts show favorable weather for firefighting with the exception of Sunday evening when winds could gust 20 to 25 mph. The winds shouldn't drive the fire as aggressively as Monday when wind gusts were measured at 40 mph to 50 mph with sustained winds of 20 mph to 30 mph. Katie Hetts, a fire behavior analyst, said the fire spread at a rate of 10,000 acres per hour.
The cause remains under investigation.
Update, 1:30 p.m. Friday: The town of Mansfield and areas south and east of Highway 172 to Highway 2 and Highway 17 are now at Level 2 evacuations.
Power has been restored to Bridgeport city limits, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
Update, 7 p.m. Thursday: Officials report conditions calmed down Thursday on the Pearl Hill Fire.
Crews are working to secure fire lines west of Bridgeport to stop spread near the Columbia River, said fire spokesman Wayne Patterson. He added that crews made progress securing lines on the northeast corner of the fire, too.
The fire remains estimated at 41% contained at 177,605 acres.
Patterson noted that the Apple Acres Fire in Chelan is nearing a patrol and mop up status.
Update, 8:35 a.m. Thursday: The fire is now 41% contained at 177,605 acres, according to fire spokesman Rick Acosta.
Acosta said evacuation levels for McNeil Canyon have been reduced from a Level 3 to a Level 2. The most active part of the fire is the northwest portion, west of Bridgeport and the Columbia River.
Firefighters are trying to limit the fire spread toward the south and constructing a fire line from Dyer Hill west to the Columbia River, Acosta said. They are continuing to mop up and look for hotspots.
Update, 7 p.m. Wednesday: Including outbuildings, authorities say 55 structures were destroyed in the Pearl Hill Fire.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office completed a survey of the damage Wednesday, said Rick Acosta, fire spokesman, and found 17 homes, one residential/commercial building, two commercial buildings and 35 outbuildings were consumed by the Labor Day fire.
The fire remains estimated at about 174,000 acres and 10% contained, but fire crews made good progress on the northwest section of the fire near Bridgeport, Acosta said.
Evacuation levels were dropped in some areas, as well. Bridgeport was previously under a Level 3 notice — leave now — but is now under Level 2 — be ready to leave. All areas south of Highway 2 are at Level 1 — be aware.
Acosta added that the southern edge of the fire, which extends past Highway 2, has "quieted down quite a bit."
Update, 7 a.m. Wednesday: The fire is now 10% contained at about 174,000 acres, and the cause is still under investigation, authorities said.
Several residences, outbuildings, vehicles and equipment have been lost, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. There was a “significant loss” of homes in Bridgeport, but none in Mansfield.
No livestock losses have been reported yet, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Officials are still working to restore power and water to Bridgeport, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Some bridges and roadways have burned, so officials will have to see if they’re safe to travel, according to the Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team. Downed power lines have been reported and there is low visibility at times due to dust and ash.
Residents within the perimeter of the fire are under Level 3 — leave now — evacuation notices, the incident management team said. Closures include Bridgeport Hill Road from Highway 17 to Dyer Hill Road and Highway 173 from milepost 2.5, just west of Bridgeport, to milepost 11 at Brewster.
About 180 people have been assigned to the fire, the team said. There are 29 engines, 12 dozers and aircraft available as needed.
Update, 7:45 a.m. Tuesday: The Pearl Hill Fire had burned 174,572 acres by this morning and damaged structures as strong winds carried it throughout Douglas County.
Details on the damage weren’t available as of this morning.
The fire started when the Cold Springs Fire, which began Sunday night on the Colville Reservation near the Cameron Lake area, jumped the Columbia River at Bridgeport on Monday.
It spread from the river down to Highway 2, east to Highway 17 at Leahy Junction and Sims Corner, west to Farmer and north to Withrow and McNeil Canyon Road, said Ben Shearer with the Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team. It was burning in sage, grass, fields and some timber.
High winds kept the Pearl Hill Fire going, Shearer said.
“This one had the perfect opportunity, when we talk about 20-mph, 30-mph winds over the last couple of days,” he said. “The conditions right now are so dry that all the fuels — all the grasses, the trees, even the sagebrush that normally has some sort of moisture in it — everything is just extremely dry. With those winds coming up when the fire started, it was pushing that heat out ahead of it. ... Embers and everything were being pushed ahead of the fire pretty fast. As fast as the wind was blowing, that’s how fast the fire was spreading.”
At one point, well over 600 homes were threatened, Shearer said.
Level 3 — get out now — evacuation notices were issued for several areas and many roads were closed. The list is being updated at wenatcheeworld.com.
Evacuees needing shelter should call the Red Cross at 670-5331. The Okanogan County Fairgrounds, 322-1621, and NCW Fairgrounds in Waterville, 745-8480, were accepting livestock from evacuees. The Wenatchee Valley Humane Society, 662-9577, Opt. 1, was accepting pets of Level 3 evacuees.
Bridgeport and Mansfield lost power, and there were numerous reports of downed power lines.
The cause is under investigation, according to the Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team, which took over the fire Monday evening.
Today’s efforts will be focused on holding fire lines in place and knocking down hot spots, the team said. The fire is 0% contained and continuing to grow, though it has slowed down.
Crews from local fire districts, state and federal agencies have responded, including four strike teams and five bulldozers from around the state. About 150 people were assigned to the fire, including firefighters from Douglas, Chelan and Okanogan counties.
“Some of them came from other fires. Some of them came from a day’s rest from their fires but were put back into action to help us here,” Shearer said. “The local resources that were here have been here since the beginning of the fire, of course. Well over 24 hours they were basically out on the line fighting for their community, trying to save as many homes, assets and resources as they could.”
Today is expected to be windy, though some forecasters say the wind could be weaker than Monday.
“If we can keep that wind from picking up too bad, keep our humidity up a little bit, we might have a chance at getting some good work done on the fire today with the resources that are here and coming in,” Shearer said.
Shearer said people should prepare to evacuate by gathering prescriptions and making a plan with their families. They should avoid traveling in fire areas.
Visit firewise.org for tips on preparing your home and protecting it against fire.
Update, 6:40 a.m. Tuesday: All of Crane Orchard Road, from Highway 173 to the road end, is under Level 3 evacuations.
Update, 4:25 p.m. Monday: All of McNeil Canyon Road, Road 20 Northwest and Road D Northwest are at Level 3 evacuations.
Update, 2:30 p.m. Monday: Level 3 evacuation notices have been issued for the city of Bridgeport and Bridgeport Bar area, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Residents should head toward Brewster and call the Red Cross at 670-5331 if they need shelter. The Wenatchee Valley Humane Society is accepting pets of Level 3 evacuees; call 662-9577, opt. 1.
The fire has reached the South Jameson Lake drainage area and is heading toward Highway 2/Moses Coulee, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Level 3 evacuation notices are being issued for the Moses Coulee/Rimrock Meadows area.
Update, 12:30 p.m. Monday: Mansfield and Bridgeport are without power and the Sheriff’s Office has gotten numerous reports of downed power lines.
Bridgeport is now under Level 2 evacuation notices, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Farmers are helping firefighters and Douglas County Transportation and Land Services to create a fire line along Mansfield’s eastern and northern boundaries.
Update, 11:05 a.m. Monday: Level 3 evacuation notices have now been issued for all of Mansfield, but the Sheriff’s Office says all routes in and out of town are unsafe due to poor visibility.
People should shelter in place if possible or use the emergency shelter at the Mansfield School gym, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Highway 172 is closed in both directions from Mansfield west to McNeil Canyon Road, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Use alternate routes or avoid the area if possible.
The NCW Fairgrounds in Waterville is open for sheltering livestock. Call 745-8480 for help.
Update, 9:55 a.m. Monday: The fire has officially been named the Cold Springs/Pearl Hill Fire, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Level 3 evacuation notices are being issued for about 150 homes east of Road K Northeast up to Strahl Canyon/Barker Canyon Road, the Sheriff’s Office said. State mobilization was approved Monday morning for the fire, which is nearing Highway 2.
Level 2 evacuation notices have been issued for all of Mansfield, the Sheriff’s Office said. Highways 172 and 17 have been closed east of Mansfield and from Bridgeport Hill Road to the south.
Update, 8:15 a.m. Monday: The fire has jumped Highway 17 and is heading south toward Highway 172, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Also known as the Road 28 Fire, it has reached about 9,000 acres, the Sheriff’s Office said. It is primarily burning between Road K Northeast and Highway 17.
Current road closures are: Highway 17 from Bridgeport Hill Road east to Leahy Junction, Pearl Hill Road, Highland Orchard Road, Road P and Road 28 from Pearl Hill Road to Road K and Highway 17.
The Sheriff’s Office said a combination of Level 2 — be ready to leave — and Level 3 — leave now — evacuation notices are in place for the Hayes Road area and all residences east of Road H Northeast toward Highway 17.
OMAK — Level 3 evacuation notices — get out now — have been issued because of a fire burning on the Colville Reservation near the Cameron Lake area.
The Cold Springs Fire started in Omak but had jumped the Columbia River into Douglas County as of Monday morning, according to Okanogan County Emergency Management. It was first reported about 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
No injuries or damaged structures have been reported and the acreage burned is unknown, Emergency Management said. Some power lines are down.
The Level 3 evacuation notices are for those west of Timm Road along the Columbia River to Highway 17 and north on Highway 97 to Malott, according to Emergency Management. People should evacuate toward those two highways, away from the fire.
Emergency Management said Okanogan and Douglas county residents needing shelter should call the Red Cross at 670-5331. Contact your local emergency management agency to find out if you are in the evacuation area.
Those needing to evacuate livestock should call the Okanogan County Fairgrounds at 322-1621.
High winds are expected to continue and increase throughout the morning.