Fire crews secure line around Rising Eagle Rd Fire



Posted on August 1, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Updated Sunday, Aug 3 at 1:59 PM

OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash.— Fire crews have secured a line around the Rising Eagle Road fire near Winthrop and according to fire information officials officials, the "fire isn't going anywhere."

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Saturday's storms did not fan the flames of the Rising Eagle Road Fire as originally feared. 

A round of thunderstorms moved through the already burned-out Methow Valley Saturday afternoon knocking down trees and starting a few new, small fires from lightning strikes.

Rogers told KREM 2 News that after 2 p.m. Saturday the storms rolled through with 40 mph winds, heavy rain and lightning strikes.

He said he was following reports of several new, small wildfires started in the region from lightning strikes.  Rogers also said visibility was very low in the region due to smoke and the storms.

Rogers told KREM 2 News on Sunday morning firefighters were able to knock down all of the smaller, spot fires that ignited.

The Rising Eagle Road fire began burning through Central Washington on Friday near the 81% contained Carlton Complex fire.

The Rising Eagle Road fire forced level three evacuations four miles outside of Twisp heading toward Winthrop according Rogers on Friday afternoon. Sheriff Rogers said the wildfire had burned six to eight homes between Twisp and Winthrop Saturday. The fire also grew Saturday, from 300 acres to somewhere between 400 and 600 acres

Fire crews called in two helicopters, a strike team and water tenders to help battle the flames. Firefighters were concentrating on protecting about 200 homes that were under an evacuation order on Saturday.

Authorities said Saturday morning that the fire seemed to have calmed down overnight and they lowered some evacuation orders.

As of Sunday morning, Wandling Road, Rising Eagle Road, Hill Drive and Signal Hill are under a level 3 evacuation order. Sun Mountain Ranch, Sun Mountain Resort, Pine Forest, Upper Bear Creek Road, and East Chewuch Road to Boulder Creek are under a level 2 evacuation. Pearrygin Lake State Park is also closed for the weekend.

The city of Winthrop and Twin Lakes Road to Wolf Creek intersection is at a level 1 evacuation.

Authorities reopened Highway 20 Sunday morning, but said trees fell during the day and were blocking the road Saturday afternoon.

The Red Cross has opened two evacuation centers at the Methow Valley Community Center at 201 S. Methow Valley Highway in Twisp and the Mazama Community Church at 18202 Highway 20 in Mazama because of the evacuations.

Flames from the Rising Eagle Road fire destroyed at least two buildings on Friday according to authorities. Rogers said the fire came up so fast that cars were trapped inside the closure and had to be led out through side streets.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources and Fire Protection District 6 are doing the initial attack are coordinating air and ground resources with the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team.

Officials said the fire appeared to be moving northwest around Liberty Bell High School where the Carlton Complex Incident Command Post is located.
Authorities said a trailer with a flat tire somehow sparked the fire.

Organizers said the Carlton Complex fire was 81% contained Thursday after it grew 673 acres the day prior.

Residents of the area were still seeing heavy smoke as of Thursday, July 31st. Authorities said traffic in residential areas impacted by the fire would be limited to local residents. More than 3,000 firefighters continued to battle hotspots on the north end of the fire.

Showers moderated fire behavior and helped firefighters catch a major break, making significant progress earlier in the month.

Authorities said power was restored to most parts of the Methow Valley within nine days of the initial flames.

The fire destroyed about 300 homes when it roared through the Pateros and Brewster communities between July 17th and 18th.

Sheriff Rogers said this is the worst mass emergency situation he has ever been a part of. The Carlton Complex fire started as four smaller fires sparked by lightning on July 14, 2014. They merged into one bigger fire within days.