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Update | Red Apple Fire 90% contained

Homes on the burned hills

Updated, 8:15 a.m. Tuesday:

WENATCHEE — The Red Apple Fire was estimated at 90% contained and 12,288 acres Tuesday morning.

Command of the fire could transition to a Type 4 incident management team on Tuesday. The fire is currently managed by California Interagency Incident Management Team 1.

12:30 p.m. Monday:

WENATCHEE — All Red Apple Fire evacuation levels have been removed with the exception of parts of Burch Mountain Road.

The unpaved portion of Burch Mountain Road was reduced at 11:30 a.m. Monday to Level 2 — be ready to leave, Chelan County Emergency Management wrote on Facebook.

The fire, less than a week old, is estimated at 12,288 acres and 83% contained, according to California Incident Management Team 1, which is overseeing fire operations.

No homes were lost during the fire, but five outbuildings were damaged, said Ryan Rodruck, team spokesman.

Plumes of smoke visible Sunday in the area were from controlled burns intended to "starve the fire of anything else it could consume," Rodruck said.  Crews are expected to reach full containment within the next two to three days.

One firefighter sustained a minor injury, but did not require significant medical treatment, Rodruck said.

9:30 a.m. Sunday:

WENATCHEE — The Red Apple Fire is now 11,952 acres and 78% contained, according to the morning briefing by the national level Type 1 Incident Management Team which is now managing the fire.

Full containment of the fire is expected by Monday. Fire crews made good progress on the fire overnight, thanks in part to the mild weather. Today, firefighters supported by helicopters will continue to strengthen the lines around the blaze.

The weather is expected to transition to warmer and drier conditions with winds picking up in the afternoon gusting 10-to-20 mph.

A crew of 353 people is now on the Red Apple Fire with 37 engines, three helicopters, three bulldozers, five water tenders and seven hand crews.

— Ian Dunn, World staff writer

3:30 p.m. Saturday

Chelan County Emergency: Management has lowered evacuation levels in the following locations effective immediately.

Warner Canyon is reduced from Level 3 to Level 2. Continue to stay ready to leave if conditions get worse.

Nahahum Canyon is reduced from Level 2 to Level 1.

— Ian Dunn, World staff writer

10:30 a.m. Saturday:

WENATCHEE — Fire crews had good success holding the Red Apple Fire overnight, according to fire spokesman Ryan Rodruck.

The Red Apple Fire, as of Saturday morning, remains at 11,111 acres and 51% containment.

“We are going to continue air operations on the northern flank. As far as the Orondo area, folks will still see some low flying aircraft. There will still be a lot of fire crews in and around, but overall, no major increase in size over the evening,” Rodruck said.

The Type 1 Incident Management Team from northern California has arrived with significant resources, Rodruck said.

Weather today is expected to be more favorable to the firefighting effort with highs in the 80s, with winds variable with gusts up to 25 mph in the canyons.

Tomorrow, the weather is expected to return to a hot and dry pattern with highs in the 100s.

“The weather slowly began to cooperate. The forecast for today for our individual firefight is looking well. We are going to have an increase in fire weather as the weekend progresses,” Rodruck said.

There has been no change to the evacuation levels around the fire area. Only the unpaved portion of Burch Mountain Road remains at a Level 3.

— Ian Dunn, World staff writer

11 p.m. Friday:

WENATCHEE — The Red Apple Fire is considered 51% contained.

Crews crossed the halfway point to full containment Friday evening, according to fire spokesman Ryan Rodruck. The latest size estimates show the fire at 11,111 acres — slight growth from recent approximations.

The fire showed minimal growth on its north flank, fire managers wrote on inciweb.nwcg.gov.

Three hundred personnel are assigned to the fire, which is now operated by California Interagency Incident Management Team 1.

10 a.m. Friday:

WENATCHEE — The Red Apple Fire showed little growth overnight despite breezy conditions.

The fire is still estimated at 11,000 acres and 10% contained but those figures could change Friday with new scouting, said public information officer Ryan Rodruck.

No homes were burned, though a few outbuildings and a transmission tower on Burch Mountain were damaged or destroyed.

“That structure protection strategy paid off,” Rodruck said. “The incident commander put a huge amount of emphasis on that structure protection plan and it worked.”

Air attacks on the fire will continue Friday, he said. The primary concern is stopping spread into Warner, Swakane and Nahahum canyons.

Evacuation levels were lowered in several areas Friday morning. Only Warner Canyon and the dirt road portion of Burch Mountain Road remain under Level 3 evacuations — leave now.

Swakane Canyon and Nahahum Canyon remain under Level 2 notices — be ready to leave.

Areas reduced to Level 1 — be aware — include the east side of Burch Mountain Road to include Ohme Garden Road, Highway 97/A from Ohme Garden Road to milepost 202, and homes north of American Fruit Road and north of Easy Street from Highway 2/97 to Burch Mountain Road.

Evacuation orders were removed from all areas south of American Fruit Road and Easy Street from Burch Mountain Road to Highway 2/97.

4:15 p.m. Thursday:

WENATCHEE — The Red Apple Fire is now estimated at 11,000 and 10% contained.

The fire stretches from about Warner Canyon in Monitor to Sunnyslope and is nearing Swakane Canyon in the north, which is where it's most active, according to Ryan Rodruck, spokesman for the Type 3 incident management team overseeing fire operations.

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Guaqale Pesalqana puts his daughter in the car as their family evacuates from their home on Selfs Motel Road near Cashmere Wednesday night. The fire flared up in Warner Canyon, pushing further into the foothills and down toward houses below.

There are still no confirmed reports of homes destroyed.

"To my knowledge at this point we haven't lost any primary residences," Rodruck said.

8:45 a.m. Thursday:

MONITOR — Up to a dozen aircraft are expected to make water or retardant drops Thursday on the Red Apple Fire.

Crews will resume a heavy air attack on the fire Thursday and two more hand crews are arriving soon, said Ryan Rodruck, spokesman for fire operations. Hand crews are typically made up of about 20 people.

The fire was reported at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday on the 3300 block of Red Apple Road in Monitor. Updated acreage was not available at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, but on Wednesday it was estimated at 9,000 acres with no containment. About 1,500 homes have received an evacuation notice, according to the Chelan County Sheriff's Office.

Fire growth has shifted to the west and Wednesday night authorities issued Level 3 evacuation notices — leave now — to residents in Warner Canyon. There are no confirmed reports of destroyed homes, Rodruck said Thursday morning.

Jordan Beckmann and others raced to move vehicles out of the path of the rapidly advancing Red Apple Fire on Wednesday night. This provided video was taken near the cross of Kenoyer and Red Apple roads. 

Rodruck’s predecessor Annie Schmidt noted on Wednesday that officials are aware of rumors of burned homes.

“We’re working to dispel or confirm rumors of lost structures,” Schmidt said.

Sustained winds of 8 to 10 mph with gusts as high as 18 mph are expected Thursday in the Cashmere area, according to the National Weather Service. Gusts could reach 26 mph in the evening.

About 200 people are currently working the fire. A Type 1 incident management team is expected to take over command of firefighting operations Thursday, he said. A Type 1 is the largest form of incident management team.

Fire Boss planes will continue to scoop water from the Columbia River near downtown Wenatchee as they did on Wednesday, Rodruck said. Helicopters will also make bucket drops.

The public is asked to be mindful of aircrafts scooping water from the river. Flying drones over the fire is also strongly discouraged. Aircrafts working on the fire can’t fly if drones are nearby, Rodruck said.

Schmidt added that fire resources, like personnel and equipment, are scarce due to the high amount of wildfires in the region and asked the public to take extra precautions.

“The conditions are such that (vegetation) are very prone or receptive to any kind of ignition,” Schmidt said.

Investigators appear to be closing in on a cause of the Red Apple Fire.

Authorities served a search warrant Wednesday at home believed to be the origin of the Red Apple Fire. No one has been arrested.

Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett said in an interview the fire, which has prompted officials to issue evacuation notices to 1,500 homes, doesn’t appear to have been started intentionally, but noted that the investigation has not concluded.

The incident is being investigated by the Chelan County Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Land Management fire investigators and detectives with the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.

1 a.m. Thursday:

MONITOR — Homes in Warner Canyon were issued Level 3 evacuation — leave now — notices around 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to Chelan County Emergency Management.

Fire activity in the area picked up rapidly late Wednesday night into the early hours of Thursday morning, with flames advancing further down the foothills toward homes below. 

210715-newslocal-RedAppleFire3.jpg

Guaqale Pesalqana carries one last armful of possessions to his car as he and his family evacuate from their home on Selfs Motel Road near Cashmere Wednesday night.

210715-newslocal-RedAppleFire2.jpg

The Red Apple Fire flared up in Warner Canyon Wednesday night, pushing further into the foothills and down toward houses below.

210715-newslocal-RedAppleFire4.jpg

Standing in their front yard, Bonnie Sollinger and Mark Patterson embrace while watching the Red Apple Fire burn in the foothills above Red Apple Road early Thursday morning.

210715-newslocal-RedAppleFire5.jpg

Firefighters survey the area near their staged fire truck at the top of Red Apple Road early Thursday morning.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday: 

WENATCHEE — Authorities served a search warrant Wednesday at home believed to be the origin of the Red Apple Fire. No one has been arrested.

Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett said in an interview the fire, which has prompted officials to issue evacuation notices to 1,500 homes, doesn’t appear to have been started intentionally, but noted that the investigation has not concluded.

The incident is being investigated by the Chelan County Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Land Management fire investigators and detectives with the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.

Growth and what's next

The fire was reported at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday on the 3300 block of Red Apple Road in Monitor. It has since grown to 9,000 acres, said Annie Schmidt, spokeswoman for fire operations, at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday.

“We definitely saw growth in line with what I think can be expected in these conditions,” Schmidt said.

There are no structures confirmed to have been destroyed, Schmidt said, adding that officials are aware of rumors of burned homes.

“We’re working to dispel or confirm rumors of lost structures,” Schmidt said.

With winds from the northwest predicted to gust about 25 mph crews are expecting another busy night of fire activity, she said.

The fire has mostly burned in grass and sage, but has spread into timber, which can send embers long distances, creating spot fires. Schmidt said that out of concern for potential spot fires to the west, officials placed Nahahum and Warner canyons under a Level 2 evacuation — be ready to leave.

“We’re seeing the fire align with the topography and move up in such a way that we feel it's a prudent decision to escalate the evacuations there,” Schmidt said.

While evacuation levels in the two canyons increased, some areas near the fire were lowered to Level 2: Easy Street west to Highway 2, homes above American Fruit Road from Burch Mountain west to Easy Street.

Homes below Easy Street and American Fruit Road were dropped to Level 1 — be aware.

About 300 people are assigned to the fire and more crews are expected to arrive Thursday evening when a Type 1 incident management team arrives to take command of firefighting operations, Schmidt said. A Type 1 is the largest form of incident management team.

Until then, crews will work the fire overnight.

Schmidt said residents can expect to see fire vehicles and firefighters headed to and from the fire.

She noted that fire resources, like personnel and equipment, are scarce due to the high amount of wildfires in the region. Schmidt asked the public to take extra precautions.

“The conditions are such that (vegetation) are very prone or receptive to any kind of ignition,” Schmidt said.

5 p.m. Wednesday: 

WENATCHEE — Easy Street West to Highway 2 and above American Fruit Road from Burch Mountain West to Easy Street have been reduced to a level 2 (get ready) advisory. Warner Canyon and Nahahum Canyon were upgraded to a level 2 advisory as well.

Below Easy Street and American Fruit was reduced to a level 1 (be aware) advisory. All other levels remain in place.

3:20 p.m. Wednesday: 

WENATCHEE — Officials upgraded Swakane Canyon to a Level 2 (get ready) advisory. Meanwhile Warner Canyon and Nahahum Canyon are now at a Level 1 (be aware) advisory.

2:20 p.m. Wednesday:

WENATCHEE — The state Department of Transport closed additional sections of Highway 97/A. The closed section now extends from just north of the Stemilt roundabout in Wenatchee to Swakane Canyon Road, 8 miles south of Entiat. Travelers should avoid the area and use Highway 97 in Douglas County as an alternate. There is currently no estimated time for reopening. 

1:45 p.m. Wednesday:

WENATCHEE —The Red Apple Fire is now estimated at 7,000 acres, according to the Central Washington Interagency Communications Center. 

Planes were seen scooping water from the Columbia River at Riverfront Park in Wenatchee around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Flightrader24.com, which tracks flight paths, has shown 8-12 aircrafts apparently working the fire throughout the day.


Planes working the Red Apple Fire on Wednesday scooped water from the Columbia River outside Pybus Public Market.

Noon Wednesday: 

WENATCHEE — Chelan County commissioners on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in response to the Red Apple Fire threatening Sunnyslope.

The fire has burned more than 4,000 acres since it began around 7 p.m. Tuesday and 1,065 homes are under Level 3 evacuation notices — leave now, Chelan County said in a news release Wednesday.

Commissioner Kevin Overbay signed the resolution declaring a state of emergency and Commissioners Bob Bugert and Tiffany Gering are expected to co-sign the formal resolution Monday at the commission meeting, the release said.

Declaring a state of emergency allows county officials to skip the typical bidding process when contracting local goods and services. It’s also generally a prerequisite for most state and federal assistance funding, the release said.

Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month also declared a statewide state of emergency related to the growing risk of wildfires.

Elsewhere near the fire, the state Department of Transportation closed Highway 97/A from Ohme Garden Road to Swakane Canyon Road. Motorists can use Highway 97 in Douglas County as a detour.

10:15 a.m. Wednesday: 

MONITOR — Fire ran along the northern edge of Monitor and Sunnyslope Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, prompting hundreds of evacuation notices.

The Red Apple Fire was estimated at 4,000 acres at 9 a.m. Wednesday. There were no reports of damaged structures or injuries.

“We had fire licking at some structures but as far as I know we haven’t lost any,” said Chief Phil Mosher, Chelan County Fire District 6 in Monitor.

Firefighters will continue to focus on protecting homes Wednesday and work to secure the lower end of the fire, he said. Crews are working to contain fire on the east side of Burch Mountain where flames spilled onto pavement, Mosher said.

After that they’ll turn to the northern edge, which due to the lack of homes between it and Swakane Canyon, hasn’t received as much as attention as other areas.

Officials requested a Type 3 incident management team and may eventually seek a larger team to help manage the fire, Mosher said.

The fire was reported at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday on the 3300 block of Red Apple Road — about 1.5 miles north of the intersection of Highway 2/97 and Easy Street. By 7:33 p.m. authorities called for a third alarm to bring in help from outside the area.

Air tankers began dropping retardant on the fire by 8:15 p.m. There were also at least two float planes, a helicopter and a spotter plane that responded working the fire Tuesday.

By 10:15 p.m. Tuesday, the fire had threatened 234 homes, orchards and a Chelan PUD substation on Easy Street, the state Fire Marshal’s Office said.

NASA map.JPG

A NASA heat map shows the approximate area affected by the Red Apple Fire.

Of particular concern were homes on West Eaglerock Drive, which was in the fire’s apparent path, said Rich Magnussen, Chelan County emergency management specialist, at about 9 p.m. Most homes on Easy Street were shielded by orchards and an irrigation ditch along the base of the burning hillside. That wasn't the case for the neighborhood off American Fruit Road.

Through the night and into the morning, the fire bridged Warm Springs Canyon near American Fruit Road. Officials issued new Level 3 evacuation notices — get out now — at 11:52 p.m. Tuesday, 1:47 a.m. Wednesday, 3:51 a.m. and 7:45 a.m.

A Red Flag warning for fire weather is in effect for the area Wednesday. Temperatures could reach 101 degrees with possible gusts above 20 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Residents are asked to avoid the Easy Street and Sunnyslope area.

Rachelle Johnson lives on Easy Street not far from where officials were headquartered Tuesday outside the Hot Rod Cafe. After she heard about the fire she raced home.

About 500 feet of orchard separated her yard from the fire’s edge. She was issued a pink paper copy of a Level 3 evacuation advising her to leave.

Her family moved in not too long ago and many of their belongings were still in boxes. She grabbed cash, her laptop and Lululemon leggings.

But two and a half hours after the fire blew by home, Johnson was optimistic about the fire.

“I’m actually feeling pretty confident because they have a really good line and the orchard is super green,” she said, adding there was a row of sprinklers going in the orchard, as well.

Pete O'Cain: (509) 664-7152

ocain@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter@peterocain

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