Saturday, July 13, 2024

Pioneer Fire expands to 600 acres, challenging firefighters in steep terrain near Lake Chelan

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CHELAN — Firefighters and aircraft continue to battle the Pioneer Fire, which has burned approximately 600 acres in steep, remote terrain along the north shore of Lake Chelan, about 31 miles northwest of Chelan. The fire, which started on Saturday, June 8, poses unique challenges due to its location and the complex terrain.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, crews and supplies are accessing the remote area by boat. Around 100 firefighters, comprising five crews, are engaged in establishing hose lines and digging containment lines. Multiple aircraft are providing consistent water drops to support the ground efforts.

The fire is expected to persist on the landscape for an extended duration due to the complex terrain and current fuel conditions. A forecasted wind event on Tuesday afternoon, with gusts up to 32 mph, may present significant challenges to firefighting efforts. Crews are working to reinforce existing fire lines in anticipation of this weather event.

Chelan County Emergency Management has issued Level 3 (Go Now) evacuation orders for the area around Rex Creek and Level 1 (Be Ready) orders extending from Prince Creek north to Cascade Creek. A closure order is in process for the Lakeshore Trail from Prince Creek to Moore Point and portions of the Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness, including several boat-in campgrounds and trails.

Recreational boaters are asked to provide ample space to aircraft utilizing Lake Chelan for water collection.

The cause of the fire, which is suspected to have originated from a structural fire, remains under investigation. Authorities are urging individuals with information or photos pertinent to the fire's early stages on June 8 to contact Wildland Fire Investigator Bruce Long at bruce.long@dnr.wa.gov.

The Northwest Team 13 Complex Incident Management Team (CIMT) is on scene and will assume command of the fire on the morning of Wednesday, June 12.

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