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Palmer fire 84% contained, Level 3 evacuations still in place

Level 3 evacuations remain in place for the intersection of Alemandi Rd. and Loomis-Oroville Rd., and south of Ellenmeham Rd. to Ellis Barnes Rd., among other areas.

OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash. — The Palmer Fire in Okanogan County is 84% contained as of Saturday morning according to the Northwest Incident Management Team (NIMT). 

Level 3 evacuations remain in place for the intersection of Alemandi Rd. and Loomis-Oroville Rd., and south of Ellenmeham Rd. to Ellis Barnes Rd., west of Wannacut Lake Rd. to the intersection with Ellis Barnes Rd, and any area near the burn perimeter according to NIMT. This means residents in these areas should leave immediately. 

The fire is completely lined and firefighters are now focusing on holding and improving lines and eliminating any remaining heat within 200 feet of the fire's edge, or within 300 feet of structures, according to NIMT. Significant high winds forecasted for later in the day are increasing the chances of new starts in the area, and NIMT is urging the public to use extreme caution amid the elevated fire danger.

The fire began burning at about 2:51 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 18, and has since grown to 17,735 acres. 

On Monday, it was reported at 18,077 acres. Crews say the change  in acreage is due to improved mapping of the fire perimeter. Fire crews hope to have the fire contained by Friday, Aug. 28.

Okanogan County Emergency Management and the Sheriff's Department are coordinating with fire crews regularly to assess the status of evacuations.  

Level 1 evacuations are in place for the town of Loomis, south of the burn perimeter to lower Loomis-Oroville Road, west of Wannacut Road to the burn area, east of Wannacut Road to the intersection with Ellis Barnes Road, south of Ellis Barnes Road to the intersection with Ellenmeham Mountain Road and the area to the east and north of Ellenmeham Road.    

Officials with the Washington state Department of Natural Resources confirmed last week that 30 structures have been lost.

Okanogan County Emergency Management is offering free COVID-19 testing to all fire personnel working on the Palmer Fire.

According to a press release, all fire personnel are expected to follow COVID-19 recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including social distancing, using face masks, and limiting public access to the Incident Command Post.  

Officials say plans are in place in case a firefighter or management team member show symptoms. All personnel have their temperatures checked once a day.  

RELATED: 'Chances are our place went up': Family awaits word on damage to home from Palmer Fire

State fire assistance was mobilized to battle the Palmer Fire. Okanogan County PUD was staged in the area in case they were requested to shut electrical power off, according to emergency management.

Multiples agencies, including the state Department of Natural Resources, are working to contain the blaze.  

The American Red Cross is assisting evacuees. Anyone needing shelter or assistance due to the fire can call (509) 670-5331.

People who need to evacuate farm animals can contact the Tonasket Rodeo Grounds. For information on livestock evacuations, contact Roger Sawyer at 509-429-8036.