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[UPDATED12:23 p.m. 8/19/15] North Star Fire threatens Nespelem

NEW evacuations ordered

 

Dennis Payne

Smoke billows to the sky from the North Star Fire north of Nespelem, as seen from the vantage point of firefighters heading in to fight it.

UPDATE 12:23 p.m. 8/19/15:

New evacuation orders were just issued for Nespelem from the Mount Tolman Fire Center. Their information release follows:

A LEVEL 1 EVACUATION:

The LEVEL 1 Evacuation area includes:

Level 1 – A Level 1 Evacuation means ALERT. Residents should be aware of the danger that exists in their area, and monitor local media outlets for information. Residents with special needs (such as a susceptibility to breathing problems in wildfire or those with animals/pets) should take note and begin making arrangements to evacuate.

- Intersection of Cache Creek Road (Gravel Pit) and BIA Route 13 (Agency Cutoff Road) South.

- Four Corners junction at Colville Indian Agency – South.

A LEVEL 2 EVACUATION:

Level 2 – A Level 2 Evacuation means BE READY. This level indicates there is significant danger to your area, and residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or with family/friends outside of the affected area, or if choosing to remain, to be ready at a moment’s notice.

The LEVEL 2 Evacuation area includes:

- Town of Nespelem East on Cache Creek Road to BIA Route 13 (Agency Cutoff Road)

- Hwy 155 from MP 50 to MP 65 at Lyman Lake /Moses Meadows RD

- Town of Nespelem to four corners junction at the Colville Indian Agency.

- Nespelem Old/New HUD

A LEVEL 3 EVACUATION:

Level 3 – A Level 3 Evacuation means LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. Danger to your area is current or imminent, and you should leave immediately. Listen to local media, and watch for emergency personnel who may be coming by to give further instructions regarding the evacuation.

The LEVEL 3 Evacuation is for:

North Star Fire - North

- Haden Creek Road to Lyman Lake /Moses Meadows Road to reservation boundary north to West Fork Highway

North Star Fire - South

- North Gold Lake Road to Stepstone Road - North

- North of Old HUD (NOT including Old HUD) to Schillings Ranch at Gold Lake Road

- Hwy 155 MP 46 to Jackson’s Ranch

- East of Nespelem City limits including all Owhi Flats.

An evacuation shelter has been setup at the Lake Roosevelt High School 500 Civic Way, Coulee Dam, WA 99116 for all displaced residents. Livestock evacuation shelter has been setup at the Agri-Plex and Annex Facility at the Okanogan Fair Grounds, 175 Rodeo Trail Road Okanogan, WA 98844.

Original Story:

Evacuations were initiated for parts of the Nespelem community Tuesday night as fire spread toward homes.

For days, firefighters on the North Star fire have worked to contain the southern edge of the fire that has burned more than 30,000 acres, but shifting winds now give cause for increased caution.

A Level 3 Evacuation, an order to leave immediately, was issued before 9 p.m. last night for residents north of Nespelem from Gold Lake Road to Stepstone Road north.

An evacuation shelter has been setup at the Grand Coulee Middle School 412 Federal Ave, Grand Coulee, WA 99133 for all displaced residents. For Livestock, The Agri-Plex and Annex Facility at the Okanogan Fair Grounds, 175 Rodeo Trail Road Okanogan, WA 98844 Okanogan, WA.

A Level 2 Evacuation means "there is significant danger to your area, and residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or with family/friends outside of the affected area, or if choosing to remain, to be ready at a moment's notice," a release from the Mount Tolman Fire Center said last night.

The LEVEL 2 Evacuation area includes:

· Nespelem Old HUD to Schillings Ranch at Gold Lake Road

· Nespelem Mile Post 46 near the bridge to Jackson's Ranch at Hwy 155

· East of Nespelem town limits to all of Owhi Loop Road (to the timber line) north of Cache Creek Road

· Cache Creek Road north to Owhi Lake Area.

The release said the former middle school building in Grand Coulee is available as a shelter. And for livestock, the Agri-Plex and Annex Facility at the Okanogan Fair Grounds, 175 Rodeo Trail Road Okanogan, is available. And in Grand Coulee, the Ridge Riders are offering to shelter stock, according to Shane Marchand, who can be reached at 509-631-4156.

The Grand Coulee Dam School District is also getting ready in case it has to convert the new school into a shelter.

"I have offered the use of the middle school and the new school as needed for temporary housing for evacuees," Superintendent Dennis Carlson wrote in an emailed memorandum to school board members Tuesday evening. "With the number of older people that would need to be evacuated, I would expect the new school (with its air conditioning and kitchen services) to be the primary evacuation site."

Carlson noted the if or how long school district buildings might be needed to house displaced persons. "I think it only prudent to be prepared to modify our regularly scheduled activities should the buildings be needed."

Forest activities, such as logging were barred on the entire reservation by the tribal council Monday.

"Due to potential for new fire starts, limited firefighting resources, drought conditions, and extreme fire behavior, the Industrial Fire Protection Level on the Colville Reservation has been raised to Level 4, GENERAL SHUTDOWN," a press release from the Mount Tolman Fire Center said.

The general shutdown was to take effect today.

The fire has spread two miles beyond the Colville Indian Reservation's north boundary into the Okanogan National Forest and reached the west side of Moses Mountain even as a fire fighting airplane dropped water Monday.

Tuesday night, there were reports of a new fire near Disautel Pass on SR 155, and shifting winds mean communities to the south need to prepare.

Meanwhile, Okanogan County Emergency Management issued a half dozen evacuation notices Tuesday as the fires from west of Conconully to Riverside spread, reportedly burning some structures. Some Omak area evacuations were lifted abut 8:30 last night, but residents of the Omak Flats, Riverside Road and third HUD were warned to watch for downed powerlines and other dangers along and on the roads.

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