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UPDATED Sunday, 2:30 p.m.: New fire burning in timber just north of Nespelem

Homes and more threatened, including Moses Mountain communications complex

 


[UPDATED Sunday, 2:15 p.m.]

The North Star fire has now grown to more than seven times the size it was Friday night, and it is threatening a regional communicaitons network with equipment atop Moses Mountain.

The fire was estimated at 22,000 acres at 1 p.m.

As afternoon winds increased yesterday, the fire jumped a dozer line, forcing firefighters to move their staging area in the southeast flank of the fire.

They re-established the line during the night. Residents in the North Star and Gold Lake road areas are told to be alert to the danger. Still at a full evacuation notice are residents from Haden Creek to Moses Meadows.

There are now 118 personnel on the fire.

Current road closures:

Moses Meadows – Lyman Lake – OPEN TO LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY

Colby Trail

Gold Creek

SR 155 – Moses Mountain

Peel Creek

Park City Loop – West

Park City Loop – East

Stepstone

Shillings Ranch – Gold Lake Road

Central Peak – Cache Creek

North and South Nanamkin

[UPDATED Sunday, 11:30 a.m.]

The North Star Fire more than quadrupled in size Saturday to 14,000 acres burned but continues to be fought by just 74 personnel, total, including three Type 3 crews.

Information released by the Mt. Tolman Fire Center Saturday afternoon said that as of 3:30, 30- 40-mph winds on the fast-burning fire had prompted the evacuation of of residences from Hayden Creek Road to Moses Meadows/Lyman Lake Road and north the the West Fork Highway.

While several outbuildings had burned, no homes were lost, although 40 are threatened, along with 35 outbuildings, cattle, cultural resources and commercial timber.

While the fire had reached almost to the northern boundary of the Colville Indian Reservation, ash the size of paper plates was reportedly falling in the Aeneas Valley and spot fires were burning in the US National Forest.

Firefighters were concentrating on keeping the fire from spreading south.

“Residents may notice increased smoke due to a burnout operation along the southeastern flank of the fire near Stepstone Road,” the release said.

Today, “three air bosses from Alaska and a Type 2 Southwest Interagency Incident Management Team are expected to arrive,” the release said.

The incident command post was to be set up at the Nespelem Community Center, and a camp for 60 firefighters would be set up at the powwow grounds.

This story may be updated this evening.

Saturday a.m. update:

As of 4 p.m. Friday, the fire has burned 3,000 acres and several roads have been closed, including:

• Moses Meadows – Lyman Lake – OPEN TO LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY

• Colby Trail

• Gold Creek

• SR 155 – Moses Mountain

• Park City Loop – West

• Park City Loop – East

• Stepstone

• Shillings Ranch – Gold Lake Road

• Central Peak – Cache Creek

• North and South Nanamkin

There are 60 personnel assigned to the fire, and a Type 2 management team is expected to arrive Sunday.

Firefighters are building dozer lines as they expect windy conditions with thunderstorms this afternoon.

Twenty homes, 10 outbuildings and cattle are threatened.

Original Post:

A wildfire has burned about 1,200 acres 12 miles north of Nespelem and threatens some 20 homes and outbuildings at a time when local resources are thin and the prospect of help from far away is “bleak.”

The North Star Fire started about 3:30 Thursday afternoon, burning in timber, grass and heavy logging slash near highway 155. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Roads are closed from Gold Lake Road to Moses Meadows.

With a “Level 1” evacuation notice, residents have been told to be alert to the danger and to monitor media outlets for information. No evacuations have been ordered.

About 40 personnel are assigned to the fire, including a 20-person hand crew, four dozers, six fire engines and a helicopter.

Additional resources have been requested and a Type 2 Southwest Interagency Management Team is expected to arrive in a couple days to a command post set up at the Nespelem Community Center.

With four other active fires being monitored on the Colville Indian Reservation, local resources are stretched to the limit, Mount Tolman says.

“An order for additional resources has been placed, but with several other large fires actively burning, the outlook for receiving additional resources is bleak,” states a press release issued Thursday night.

“Five uncontained large fires in Washington, along with numerous smaller fires, mean firefighting resources are now stretched thin across the state,” The state Department of Natural Resources said Thursday in a press release.

“Wildfires currently raging in Oregon, California, Idaho and Montana have pulled firefighters and air resources to those states, where the biggest fires are commanding national attention,” DNR said, noting that as of Tuesday, 628 of the 751 fires on DNR-protected land this year have been human-caused.

"Because conditions are so bad, common activities like operating farm equipment or target shooting can spark fires that turn into major destructive events,” said DNR Deputy for Wildfire Mary Verner. “We need everyone to take the utmost care around any activity that might start a wildfire.”

And at the federal level, officials have ramped up their “readiness level” to 5, the highest, in light of the severity of the drought across the west and more than 60 large fires currently burning in 13 states, using 13,000 firefighters.

Friday should be considerably cooler than the 100-degree high experienced in Grand Coulee Thursday, but the afternoon could bring rain, or even a thunderstorm, with 7-12 mph winds and gusts up to 25 mph.

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