Thursday, July 25, 2024

Crews make progress on Pioneer Fire despite difficult terrain, lack of infrastructure

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CHELAN — The Pioneer Fire, burning in the rugged terrain of the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Area and on private land, has held steady at 3,811 acres for the last few days.

Fire officials say the blaze, located 31 miles northeast of Chelan, will likely persist for an extended period due to the challenging landscape and lack of infrastructure within the wilderness. With minimal fire growth and aviation support, firefighters are making progress on structure protection efforts to the north and south of the fire.

Eleven homes, cabins, outbuildings, and Forest Service bridges and shelters are being protected through brush clearing, tree trimming, and the installation of pumps, hoses, and sprinklers. Work at Moore Point is expected to be completed by the weekend, while protection efforts have been finished down to Canoe Creek in the south.

Helicopters delivered three pallets of hose and other supplies to areas inaccessible by boat in addition to water drops to cool the fire’s edges and slow its movement on Tuesday. On Monday, aviation resources logged 28.5 hours of flight time, transporting 47 personnel, 14,000 pounds of cargo, and 150,000 gallons of water.

Evacuation levels have remained unchanged since Sunday, with Level 3 (Go Now) orders in place from north of Moore Point to Canoe Creek, Level 2 (Be Prepared) from Canoe Creek to Lone Fir Creek, and Level 1 (Stay Alert) from Lone Fir Creek to Safety Harbor.

A closure order is in effect for the Lakeshore Trail and portions of the Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness, with an additional road closure pending for the Grade Creek (8200) road due to heavy equipment operations.

The cause of the Pioneer Fire, which began on June 8, remains under investigation.

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