WA WILDFIRES | Okanogan Complex | August 22, 2015

SUMMARY

Complex Fires:  9-Mile, Beaver Lake, Lime Belt [Knobbly merged with this fire, with Blue Lake later also merging into], Tunk Block, Twisp Fire [merged into complex on 8/20/15]

  • Location:  13 miles NW of Omak
  • Start:  8/14/15
  • Cause:  Lightning
  • Acres Total:  124,083
  • Containment:  38%
  • Fuels:  Timber

FIRE STATUS

Fire Behavior

  • Extreme fire with crowning
  • Wind-driven runs
  • Long-range spotting.

Fire Ignition

  • 8/21 Update:  80% expected due to high winds.  Spotting distance could be up to 2-miles.

9-Mile Fire:

  • 8/22 Update: Mop-up & Patrol in progress. 4720 acres.  95% containment.

Beaver Lake: 

  • 8/22 Update: Fire grew significantly overnight to the SE and is at Hwy 20. 14,760 acres. 0% containment.
  • 8/21:  Last 24 Hrs:  grew to 14,760 acres . Fire managers: anticipate very high rates of fire spread in the lighter fuels. Where the fire gets into heavier timber, expect crown fire runs with long range spotting.

Twisp River: 

  • 8/22 Update: Fire crews providing structure protection along the river.
  • 8/21: Grew overnight on 8/21 to 8402 acres. Fire moving down into the valley.   The Fire that faces the Methow Valley will be exposed to strong winds.  W Flank: fire is expected to spread with single and group tree torching. In the Twisp River drainage, winds will vary in speed and direction, resulting in the potential for flare-ups and spotting.9,054 acres. 0% containment.

Lime Belt/Blue Lake 

  • 8/22:  Fire moved SE and crossed over Salmon Creek Rd.65,715 acres.  20% containment.
  • 8/21 Update:  A major run the last 24 hours, gaining almost 20,000 acres to the S & Wt. Fire managers anticipate very high head rates of spread in the lighter fuels, with the fire backing and flanking actively into the wind and on protected slopes. Crown fires with long range spotting is expected where the fire gets into heavier timber.

Tunk Block Fire

  • 8/22 Update: Active fire in the North corner area. 68,066 acres.  15% containment.
  • 8/21:  Fre grew  36,000+ acres, now burning on the Colville Reservation. Fire managers are anticipating very high rates of spread at the fire’s head, potentially resulting in the Tunk Block Fire to join the North Star Fire to the E. Tunk Block is burning in grass and timber about four miles NE of Riverside

DAMAGE ASSESSMENT

Spike Camp @ Concully State Park

  • Costs:  Disbanded due to Costs
  • Governor:  Has requested a Federal Emergency Declaration to provide additional resources to cover some of the costs.

RESOURCES

Staffing 

  • Personnel:  820 incl from Canada
  • Crews:  16
  • Type 2 Hand crews: 9
  • Type 21A Crews: 4

Equipment

  • Engines: 76
  • Water Tenders: 28
  • Type 1 Helicopters: 3
  • Type 2 Helicopters: 3

Command 

  • IC:  Ted Pechota
  • Complex Team: Rocky Mtn Type 1 IMT

Fire Mobe 

  • Authorized
  • Effective:  8/17/15

Incident Cooperators

  • USDA Forest Service
  • Dept of Natural Resources [WA DNR]
  • Okanogan County Sheriff Office
  • Okanogan County Emergency Management Office
  • Okanogan Public District #1
  • WA Dept of Transportation
  • American Red Cross
  • WA National Guard
  • Graham FD
  • Multiple FDs, Agencies across the State & outside of WA
  • Canadian resources

EVACUATIONS

LEVEL 3 [Means to leave now, you are in imminient danger or fire is near]

  • Aenas Valley
  • Area NE of Nespelem
  • Concully
  • Malott
  • Twisp River Rd
  • Winthrop

LEVEL 2 [Be Ready to Evacuate a moment’s notice]

  • Okanogan [ as of 1020 Alert now a Level 1]
  • Riverside
  • Tonasket
  • Twisp

LEVEL 1 [Alert only, but beware]

  • Brewster
  • Carlton
  • Chesaw
  • Mazama
  • Molson
  • Omak
  • Oroville
  • Pateros

SHELTERS

Red Cross

  • Brewster Middle School
  • Brewster H.S.

Animals

  • Okanogan Fairgrounds

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Community Meeting

  • Twisp Mayor  Soo Ing-Moody called Meeting
  • 8/22/15 1700PDT
  • Methow Valley Comm Ctr. 201 Methow St

SOCIAL MEDIA REPORTS

“Eyewitness News, Discussions”

August 22

  • Seattle TV Station: “Fire now 227,226 acres. That’s 27k larger estimate than we got late last night.”
  • Eyewitness [Media]: Incident Command Post has nearly 1,000 Fire personnel based.
  • “There’s an orange tint and haze to everything in Portland” – rockyfierro [@finnslighthouse]
  • Via Seattle local TV Station:  “Impressive news video of fire spread at the Okanogan Fire Complex that claimed the lives of 3
    Firefighters and badly burned 4 more. Fires across the state continue to burn fiercely, but a calmer day of winds in some areas have firefighters hoping to improve lines and go on the offensive in some areas. Resources remain stretched extremely thin and President Obama has issued a disaster declaration in many Washington counties.”
  • DNR Calls for Citizen Volunteer Firefighters;  Firefighting resources are stretched so thin across central and eastern WA that fire resources have been requested from across the United States and even Canada. Now there have been requests for citizen volunteers to respond, but news media stories on this unique request tends to leave out that very specific requirements are being called for.
  • DNR Volunteer Program:  http://www.dnr.wa.gov/WildfireVolunteer – Guidelines are very strict. Please read carefully before visiting or applying.

August 21

  • “Okanogan Complex Fire at 88,000 acres; New Level III evacuations in place”
  • “Fire has been reported at the Okanogan city limits.”@LastAlarmAlert tweeted
  • Local media during a press conference:  “Fires is now 161,633 acres and growing fast.”

On the Loss of USFS Firefighters

  • The Bellevue Firefighters express our deepest sadness at the loss of 3 firefighters in the Okanogan Fire Complex in a burnover on Wednesday. 4 other firefighters reportedly suffered burn injuries and were treated. One of the 4 was transported to Harborview Burn Center in Seattle. We delayed this announcement in part to confirm facts on this tragic event and to account for our own firefighters operating on fires in the area. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and fellow firefighters of those lost and badly injured.

August 20

Strike Teams Deployed

  • Engine 101 as part of a type 1 engine strike team from King County at the Okanogoan Complex last night. Fire conditions were heavy to the say the least. Note: We have very limited posts at this time as our primary moderator is deployed to fires in central/eastern Washington.

On the Loss of USFS Firefighters

  • Western WA Fire Dept:  Our hearts are with the families of those killed but not forgotten: Tom Zbyszewski, Andrew Zajac and Richard Wheeler.

August 19

August 18

August 17

October 10, 2012 – The Okanogan Complex occurred 5 years earlier.

Our prayers, thoughts and support is for all of our Firefighters, Pilots, Fire Managers, Dispatchers, Mutual Support, Volunteers, Incident Cooperators are with you during this tough time with firefighting operations.  We wish you Safety, emotional and mental support and a safe journey to/out off of the fire ground.  Your loved ones are praying too. – Lisa/Editor

[c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog