Monday, August 24, 2015

Okanogan Complex Fire Update

Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team - Todd Pechota, Incident Commander 
Information Center:  509-850-0083
Hours of operation: 7 am – 9 pm

Aug. 24, 2015
8 pm
Current Situation: The Okanogan Complex grew to 258,339 acres; containment is up to 15 percent. Suppression efforts made good progress today even though heavy smoke impaired visibility and air support was unable to operate.  While the high level inversion kept fire activity somewhat subdued there were many areas of high fire activity. 

A Red Flag warning remains in effect with winds primarily from the southwest. Heavy smoke is expected to cover the fire area tonight and firefighters were cautioned to watch for impacts to breathing.  Travel on the roads will also be slowed due to limited sight distances.

Tunk Block Fire: The fire was active on the north end where work was done on an indirect line along the northwest side.  On the northeast side efforts were successful in keeping the fire out of the Aeneas Valley. A spot fire along the Omak Lookout Road was successfully lined; crews patrolled the road throughout the day.  Direct line construction around the south end tied lines together and crews started to strengthen them and patrol.  Highway 155 is open, we ask the public to be cautious when driving as fire crews are still operating in the area.

The Lime Belt, Blue Lake, and Beaver Lake Fires: There continues to be active fire, particularly in the northeast corner and the Wright Mountain area where the fires continue to merge. Crews worked to construct indirect line between the two fingers west of Wright Mountain; other crews looked for ways to go direct and minimize fire growth. Direct line was constructed in the Conconully area as structure protection continued.    

Twisp River Fire: Lines on the north, east, and south, continue to hold.  Crews and dozers tied the line together on the west side and began burnout operations to solidify the line.

Nine Mile Fire: The fire is 95 percent contained and remains in monitor status.

Night Shift:  The fire is expected to have pockets of active burning.  Priorities for the night shift are focused on structure protection at numerous locations around the fire.  Particular attention will be paid to structures along Highways 20 and 155, the B&O and Columbia River Roads, Tonasket, and along Salmon Creek.

Weather: The Red Flag warning is still in effect; and active fire may occur where valleys are aligned with the winds. Smoke will continue to be heavy throughout the night as the high level inversion persists.  Winds will be variable.  Firefighters and the public are cautioned to be aware if they experience difficult breathing and take steps to minimize exposure and seek medical help.

Evacuations and Closures: The public is encouraged to contact the Okanogan Emergency Operations Center to learn how to register for automated phone messages in the event of evacuation notices being issued for particular neighborhoods. Contact emergency staff at 509-422-7348 or the Colville Tribal Emergency Management Center at 507-634-2105.

Media Briefings:  Media briefings will be held at 11 am daily at Okanogan County Fairgrounds.

Fire Statistics as of Sunday:  
Location:  Eleven miles northwest of Omak, WA                   Start Date: August 14, 2015
Complex Size:  258,339 acres                                                Complex Percent Contained: 15
Twisp River: 10,503 acres                                          Total Personnel: 1,345                                  
            Tunk Block: 133,410 acres                                                                                         
            Lime Belt/Blue Lake and Beaver Lake: 109,706
            Nine Mile: 4,720 acres

Places to get additional information:
Twitter: #OkanoganComplex
The Rocky Mountain IMT has a Facebook page dedicated to “Thank You’s to the firefighters working on the fire line. Visit the page at
Spanish Language Information: (509) 422-2422


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