Crews on the Tunk fire were able to get some more control line in the Lone Pine area and are mopping up along the northern perimeter.
Firefighters burned out on the on the west end of the North Star fire and air resources helped on south end to hold the line. The North Star fire was actively burning in the area where it turns north along Highway 155 and a pilot car was used to guide traffic while firefighters dealt with snags that posed a hazard along the road.
The spot fire between the North Star and Tunk Block Fires is being successfully held in place.
Today’s Operations: More resources are being added, including chippers, engines and crews. Crews will continue constructing line directly adjacent to the fires edge where it is safe and effective to do so. They are also connecting roads and natural features to establish indirect line. On the North Star fire, crews, with the help of dozers and air attack are building direct fireline where it is safe and effective and improving indirect line; preparing it for burnout operations when conditions are favorable.
On the Tunk Block Fire, crews will continue work securing homes in the Crawfish area. Dozers will be building line in the northeast portion of the fire and firefighters will continue mopping-up to strengthen established containment lines.
Weather: The forecast is cool and partly cloudy with a slight chance of showers in the afternoon. Maximum temperatures 60-65 at higher elevations and 65-72 in the valleys. Relative humidity will be 18-25% with winds out of the southwest 10-15 miles per hour.
Evacuations/Closure Information: Evacuation and closure information is dynamic and changes more frequently than this report is updated. For the most current evacuation information, please contact your closest Emergency Operations Center (EOC): Colville Tribal Emergency Services509-634-2105, Okanogan County EOC (509) 422-7206, Ferry County EOC 509-775-3132. Highway closure information is available online: http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/trafficalerts
Evacuation levels changed yesterday in the following areas:
· The west half of the Tunk fire went from a level 3 to a level 1
· Owhi Flat & Owhi Lake went from a level 3 to a level 2
· Nespelem went from a level 2 to a level 1
National Forest Lands east of Tonasket and south of highway 20 on the Tonasket Ranger District are closed. Colville Indian Reservation forest and recreational areas are closed.
North Star & Tunk Block Fires Have Almost 400 Miles of Perimeter
Omak, WA -- Weather moderated fire behavior for North Star and Tunk Block Fires early this week but there is still a lot of work to be done.
With more than 360,000 acres of fire, officials calculate that there are more than 370 miles of perimeter between the two fires. North Star Fire has about 195 miles and Tunk Fire has 178 miles excluding the spots and perimeters around unburned islands.
According to a publication produced by the Forest Service in 2011, fireline production rates for a 20 person crew are between 6 and 12 chains per hour for direct fireline and between 4 and 8 chains per hour for indirect fireline. The rate varies depending on terrain, vegetation type and whether the fire crew is a type 1 or type 2 crew. Dozer production rates vary greatly depending on the type of dozer, percent slope and the fuel model (or vegetation type). The range for these two fires is anywhere from 1 to 100 chains per hour depending on location.
“There are about 80 chains in a mile,” said Incident Commander, Ed Lewis, “which means there are almost 30,000 chains of fireline to be secured between these two fires. Even if the fire behavior continues to be moderated, that’s a lot of work for the fire crews assigned here.”
Some of the terrain on this incident is too steep for either hand crews or dozers to safely build fireline. The steep ridges on the east flank of the North Star Fire is an example of this. In those locations, crews will use aerial support to stop the spread of the fire at natural features or to hold the fire in check while they scout for locations to build effective fireline.
Crews will be at it for quite a while, incorporating roads, handline, dozer line and natural features, but no matter the method, line being constructed on North Star and Tunk Block Fires all needs to pass one test first according to Lewis. “We don’t want our firefighters to build dumb fireline. Dumb fireline would be line built in places unlikely to hold, or that doesn’t factor in the variables.”
At this point in the season, large fires won’t be completely out until snow blankets the area in the winter. Between now and then, firefighters will work toward containment and, along contained perimeter, will continue patrolling and monitoring the fire; responding as needed to keep the fire within containment lines.