Multiple wildfires merge into Wenatchee River Complex


by KING 5 News

Posted on September 11, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 11 at 1:31 PM

Firefighters say three wildfires merged into one overnight, creating the Canyons Fire that is burning dangerously close to homes in Wenatchee -- but it's still only part of what firefighters are calling the Wenatchee Complex.

As of noon Tuesday, firefighters said the Wenatchee Complex includes over 50 lightning-caused fires burning in Chelan and Okanogan counties.

The Byrd Canyon Fire near Entiat makes up the other main part of the complex, still burning strong in 7,500-9,000 acres of steep slopes above the Columbia River.

The Canyons Fire has burned about 1,200 acres. Tuesday, flames came within a quarter mile of the Broadview subdivision, where some of the 450 homes under an evacuation order in Okanogan and Chelan counties are located.

Firefighters said part of their plan includes allowing the fire to burn through the dry grass and brush, but they're standing guard in neighborhoods ready to spray down any flames that creep close to homes.

Firefighters advised homeowners to leave their sprinklers on and close all the windows in their homes before evacuating.

A total of 98 homes are under a Level 3 evacuation order, considered the most urgent; 280 homes are under a Level 2, and 76 homes are under a Level 1 order.

So far, no homes have been lost.

Officials describe the Level 1, 2 and 3 akin to a "Ready, Set, Go" level of evacuation notices. Level 1 asks residents be ready to evacuate if conditions change, Level 2 means residents should be set to go at a moment's notice, and Level 3 means authorities are advising residents to evacuate because homes are in imminent danger.

Related: Photos from Canyons Fire near Wenatchee

Related: Photos from Byrd Canyon Wildfire near Entiat

The Wenatchee Complex started Saturday during a lightning storm, sparking over 100 small wildfires.  Other fires in the Wenatchee Complex include the following:

  • The Cascade Creek Fire, which has burned 1,700 acres on the south slope of Mount Adams.
  • The Apache Pass Fire, burning Lincoln County west of Spokane. It has burned 18,000 acres of grassy land and is 50 percent contained.
  • The Highway 141 Fire, near White Salmon in southern Washington, is 85 percent contained.

SR 97-A is intermittently closed between Chelan and the junction with Navarre Coulee Road. Along with the fire danger, there is danger from rock slides triggered by the flames.

The local Red Cross chapter has set up shelter for evacuees at the Wenatchee Seventh-Day Adventist Church, located at 508 North Western Avenue and available at 509-663-3907.

A public information phone line has also been set up: 509-667-6636.

Pets can be evacuated to the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society.

Related links:

InciWeb - Wenatchee Complex Fire