Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Okanogan Fire Complex Morning Update 

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

August 25, 2015
10 am
Current Situation: Thick smoke, resulting from inversion and light winds, has effectively placed a lid on the top of the fire. This has prevented helicopters and air tankers from assisting with suppression efforts. Due to decreased visibility, air operations must fly to 8,000ft to gain a clear view. However, on a positive note, the inversion has reduced fire activity, as it decreases extreme heat on the fireline. Firefighters continue to watch the weather closely, as winds pick up in late afternoon and the inversion lifts, increasing fire activity. Yesterday, the Okanogan Complex grew by 1,752 acres, to a total of 258,339 acres. Containment is at 15% contained, with 1,345 personnel assigned to the fire.

Yesterday: Excellent progress was made constructing, firing out and securing line around the Twisp Fire. Three different structure protection divisions worked to steer the fire around threatened structures. Crews are taking advantage of fuel treatment areas on Forest Service lands, using fuel breaks and roads as fireline. Crews are also focused on constructing contingency lines between the fire and potentially affected communities, which include Aeneas Valley, Conconully and areas along Highway 20. Military personnel assisted with logistical support and mapping of the fire perimeter in remote areas. 

Today: The focus is on continuing direct line construction, where it is safe to work up against the fire perimeter, and to develop contingency options. As the smoke lifts, aircraft will be used to help secure a critical communications site on Omak mountain that serves 50% of the Okanogan Valley, as well as repeaters for the Colville Tribe, Sheriff’s Office and Washington Department of Natural Resources.     

Because of poor visibility, a helitanker assigned to the Okanogan Complex is being loaned to the Chelan Complex to assist with bucket drops to support firing operations.

Similar weather conditions are expected today. A Red Flag warning remains in effect, with winds primarily from the southwest. Fire managers are asking crews to remain vigilant, both because of the potential for afternoon flare-ups and continuing hazards from falling snag trees and snags and heavy traffic in the fire area.  Motorists on Hwy 20 and 97 are asked to slow down in the vicinity of the fire area for their own safety and the safety of fire crews exiting and entering the highway. 

Tunk Block Fire: Crews are utilizing fuel treatment areas constructed by the Forest Service to tie together road systems outside the northeast corner of the fire. Crews have made good progress on the south end of the fire and are working to protect the Onion Mountain communications site. As visibility allows, water scoopers will support ground crews, with water drops of 800-1,200 gallons each, on the east side of the fire.

The Lime Belt/Blue Lake Fire and Beaver Lake Fire: Crews have completed constructing and securing line along the west side of the fire, between the fireline and Conconully. The fires continue to grow together on the southwest side.  Efforts are focused on a finger of fire that pushed northward yesterday on the north side of the fire. The fire continues to back slowly toward the southeast, where structure protection efforts are being focused to steer the fire around potentially threatened structures. 

Twisp River Fire: Crews are working to complete firing and mop up operations in order to secure the west side of the fire. They have also completed constructing and securing line along the Twisp River Road, to secure potentially affected structures in Tonaskett. 

Nine Mile Fire: Currently 4,720 acres and 95% contained.  This fire is in patrol-and-monitor status.

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:
Website: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4534/
Blog: http://okanogancomplex.blogspot.com/
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 https://www.facebook.com/RockyMtn.Type1.IMT.PIOs
Spanish Language Information: (509) 422-2422

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